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Best BBQ and Wine Pairings

Summer is all about great times, sunshine, and BBQ food. Who doesn’t love firing up the grill when the sun is out. However, have you ever given any thought to the best drinks for BBQ food? Specifically, BBQ wine pairings?

The wine you choose can really enhance your BBQ dishes and add new flavors to your eating food. Not sure how to pair your BBQ meat and wine? This post looks more at the right type of wine to drink with your BBQ offerings to really take your food to a new level and why that is.

BBQ Wine Pairing; Red and White

Typically, a general rule of thumb is white wine for poultry and seafood and red wine for red meat and pork. Why?

  • Red Meat: The umami and higher fat in red meat balance out the tannins in the red wine,
  • Chicken and Fish: A white or rose wine is ideal for fish and poultry as it acts more of a palette cleanser and doesn’t overwhelm the meat.

Another point to bear in mind is that wine is also a great choice for adding flavor to your meat when BBQing. You don’t just have to drink it; the flavors in the wine can lend themselves to. However, when you grill meat and add flavorings and sauces, the taste of the meat can change, meaning you need to think carefully about your BBQ wine pairing more carefully.

For example, a Ruby port can add a sweet flavor to slow-roasted pork, and a full-bodied Tempranillo, Cabernet-blend, or Sangiovese can enhance your red meat when used as a sauce too. 

Red Meat Wine Pairings

When choosing your red meat and wine pairings, you want to enhance the flavors in the meat you are grilling.

Chianti, Shiraz, Rioja, and Bordeaux will all bring out the tobacco and pepper flavors in grilled beef. While for grilled or slow-roasted pork dishes, you want a red with a touch of sweetness and a high fruit factor such as Ruby Port, Zinfandel, and Port Noir.

When seasoning your red meat, the following pairings are exceptional;

  • Sweet Barbecue Sauce: Choose either a Petite Sirah, Monastrell, Tannat, or a Pinotage red wine.
  • Spicy/Mustard Barbecue Sauce: Consider the pairing with an Aglianico, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
  • Classic Barbecue Sauce: Classic BBQ sauce needs a Carménère, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cabernet blend.
  • Plain Barbecue Pork: Pairs well with a Zinfandel (or Primitivo), Port on the Rocks, Dry Riesling, and Garnacha
  • Plain Texas-Style Beef Brisket: Tempranillo, Australian Shiraz, and a GSM Blend are great pairings.
  • Burgers and Beef: Choose a Sangiovese (or Chianti), Syrah, American Oak-Aged Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Priorat-blends, and similar reds.

Chicken, Fish and Wine Pairings

For those who enjoy simple flavors of their chicken and fish, the following pairings are ideal;

  • For Grilled Chicken: Choose a Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Grechetto.
  • Wine for Grilled White Fish: Opt for Friulano, Verdejo, White Vinho Verde or a Colombard.
  • Eating Grilled Salmon?: Pair salmon with Chardonnay, White Rioja, Viognier, Marsanne-Blends, or a lighter-bodied Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.

Simple grilled chicken and fish go well with Sauvignon Blanc or Verdejo. The reason being that they are citrusy, grassy, and almost always “light wines.” If the dish is simple enough, chicken (and fish) almost always go well with a good unoaked to lightly oaked Chardonnay.

  • For BBQ Chicken: You need Rosé, White Zinfandel, Gewürztraminer or an Off-Dry Riesling.

A sweeter, more intense Gewürztraminer is an excellent choice if you are “BBQing” your chicken, sticky sauce, and all. The Gewürztraminer served cold will help cool down spicy foods if you like your food with a bit of a kick.

If you add flavors to your chicken, herb flavors on your meat will pair well with herb-based white wine, including Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and White Zinfandel. Add a dash of wines to your sauce or herb rub, and consider glazed rubs for added sweetness to your food.

You’ll want to play off the citrus and minerality in a nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Grechetto, Grüner Veltliner, or Verdejo with basic salt and pepper, maybe a few tomatoes, or even lime and cilantro for fish tacos for a twist on a classic fish favorite.

Choosing Your Best BBQ Wine Pairing

When considering a good BBQ wine pairing, you need to consider the type of food you are BBQing along with any sauces and condiments you will be using to make a great match. As everyone’s palette is different, they will be able to pinpoint different notes and flavors in both food and the wine to go together.

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