There’s nothing quite like the smell of barbecue in the summertime. Whether you’re cooking up burgers and hot dogs, or ribs and chicken, barbeque is always a crowd-pleaser. And what goes better with barbeque than a glass of wine? Here are some of our favorite wines to pair with barbeque, from light and fruity whites to big, bold reds.
Backyard BBQ or Bourgiose Barbeque?
The most crucial thing to bear in mind when matching wine is to match the beverages available with the individuals and settings, and everything else will fall into perfect harmony. The host may believe a pricey or distinguished bottle is ideal for their brisket, but circumstances of the event might rule against it, making the pairing appear bad in comparison. We recommend working from the beginning with the type of occasion and kind of guests before proceeding to food.
For the event style, there are several variables to consider when pairing. Will guests be milling about while the meal is cooking? If so, start off with zippy, citrus-driven white or rosé wines with high acid to perk up taste buds and pique appetites. Will the gathering be more intimate, with foods being prepared ahead of time? Steer towards matching directly with the dishes served and improving their quality for a smaller, more focused group.
When it comes to combining something as traditional and fundamental to the home cooking experience as barbecue, go with uncomplicated, approachable designs that go well with plates of sweet, smokey short ribs and crunchy coleslaw. This will result in an unassuming (but consistently excellent) finish.
Although there are no poor replies to this question, there are undoubtedly choices that are better suited than others. There are numerous distinct types of American barbeque, making it simple to determine which wines to stock.
Carolina barbecue, usually prepared over hardwood like hickory and basted in a sweet, tangy vinegar-based sauce, traditionally consists of a variety of pork cuts that are slowly cooked for many hours. In the sauce for some styles of Carolina barbecue (South Carolina, generally), mustard may be found.
The richness of the pork and tanginess of the sauce is accented by medium-bodied Italian reds like Chianti and Barbera, which keep things simple while still complementing the meal. The dishes in this style of barbecue are particularly well-suited for French rosés, whether sparkling or still. For sparkling selections from southern France, look for unassuming but delicious Crémant types from Loire, Bourgogne, or Alsace. Medium-bodied Italian reds like Chianti and Barbera add to the richness of the pork and the tanginess of the sauce without overpowering the meal.
Texas barbecue is traditionally made with beef, as Texas is the home of the longhorn cattle. The meats are usually smoked pit-style over mesquite wood, and an unsweetened, thinner vinegar-based sauce is served alongside to moisten the meat. Texas barbecue differs from Carolina or Kansas City styles in that it isn’t typically accompanied by a specific sauce.
This beefy style is great with more structured, bolder crimson wines such as Zinfandel, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon from California, Argentina, or Washington.
Kansas City Barbecue
The sauce for this style of barbecue is characterized by its wide and varied use of different meats, including pork, beef, chicken, sausage, and occasionally fish, which is slow-smoked over a variety of woods. Most often hickory is used to smoke Kansas City-style sauces.
Kansas City-style chicken or fish is flavorful, yet very smoky. This style goes well with richer, more structured whites that have crisp acidity, such as Chardonnay from Sonoma, Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, or Pinot Gris from Oregon or Alsace. Look for juicy yet earthy choices like Grenache from Spain or southern France, or Syrah/Shiraz from California or Australia when combining rich meats like pork and beef. Perhaps try a GSM or Rhone-style blend produced in Washington state.
Memphis, Tennessee’s major emphasis is on pork-particularly pulled pork sandwiches. The ribs are generally dry-rubbed or “wet,” which is mopped with sauce during cooking and then coated with sauce afterward.
Dry-rubbed pork needs a thirst-quenching white wine with a hint of residual sugar to temper the heat, such as Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or Gewurztraminer. If red wines are more your style, try medium-bodied Old World reds like the Tempranillo-based Rioja or Sangiovese-driven Chianti instead.
Barbecue in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands is known for its unique tastes, which frequently include locally available ingredients like pineapple, ginger, and Asian spices on pork and sausage. Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, or Riesling are often a good match for the spicy fragrant flavors.
The sauce on barbecue chicken in Alabama is a white mayonnaise and vinegar condiment that’s used as a side dish. Crisp Chardonnay from France or California’s unoaked Chardonnay works well with this creamy tanginess.
The Native American peoples, as well as later Spanish and Mexican elements, have had a profound impact on the cuisine of Southern California. The most popular dish in Southern California is juicy tri-tip seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and garlic served alongside stewed beans and pico de gallo. Lean into bigger styles of rosé, such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Tavel, or even higher-extracted domestic rosés based on Grenache or Pinot Noir for this style of barbecue. If red wines are preferred, try Spanish Garnacha or California Zinfandel instead.
What Wine Pairs Best with Barbeque?
Sweet barbecue marinades make lighter wines taste thin and sharp. They can, however, be spicy, so look for a wine with enough tannin or oak. Potato or macaroni salads will also highlight astringent tastes.
Fattier meats, on the other hand, can handle more tannin. A wine with high acidity will also stand up to the richness.
Heavier sauces go great with big red wines like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Lighter sauces pair well with Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Barbera, and Sangiovese.
For a white wine that can stand up to barbecue sauce, try an oaked Chardonnay or Viognier. Riesling is another good option because it can be either sweet or dry.
Sparkling wine is always a good choice for barbecued chicken or fish. The acidity in sparkling wine will cut through the fat in these dishes.
Keep in mind that while people like full-bodied red wines such as Malbec and Shiraz, they may become heated up during a hot day. If you’re planning on consuming these beverages outdoors, keep them somewhere cool to avoid problems.
Meaty barbecues aren’t the only option. If your centerpiece is fish or vegetables, consider crisp white wines and rosé or light reds like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or Mencia.
Even if you’re having a meat extravaganza, you may still wish to offer dips on arrival. Even if you have a lot of food, consider offering other types of wine or water since they’ll be more popular than red wines after the meal. Magnums of rosé are particularly appealing!
If you’re catering for a lot of people, cost should be considered. Sauvignon blanc, Cotes de Gascogne, and Picpoul de Pinet are some whites that offer excellent value. Good red wine choices include malbec, pinotage, and shiraz.
Take note of the barbecue event’s theme. Serve Californian wine if it’s all American, and aromatic whites like riesling if it’s a spicy Thai or Indian cookout.
Rose is also a surprisingly excellent choice for grilling, especially if you’re looking for darker, more intensely fruity rosés from countries like Spain and Argentina. Even sparkling rosé (Cava rosado is a fantastic value) and pink champagne are available if you want to be more extravagant!
More crucial than the wine’s color is how you serve it. Even red wine benefits from being chilled or served cold in hot weather, which is why opening a vintage or complex wine isn’t worth it.