Staycation Wine: BBQ Wine Pairing
Do you have a License to Grill? No matter your expertise level, it can be tricky deciding what wines to have at your BBQ. It’s easy to default to the standard go-to beer option. We like a tasty cold brew like anyone, but there is nothing like elevating your BBQ with just the right mix of wine. We put together three BBQ cases to ensure you’re covered with anything that sizzles on your staycation barbie. A red, white, and mixed case of all-rounders that take the guesswork away and turn up the heat on your soirée from lit to smoking hot fire. Whether the sun makes an appearance or not, here is some general BBQ pairing inspiration for you to marinate on before you fire up the grill.
BBQ wine pairing can get into the nitty-gritty details of styles of sauce and rubs and smoke levels but to make it easy we put together a list of classic approachable pairings (as well as a few quirky picks to wow your guests). A BBQ is a good auld traditional home cooking experience, so keeping it simple and fun is part of the recipe for a successful party.
Red wines generally pair well with barbecue-grilled meats by enhancing the peppery and tobacco flavours in the dish. The fuller-bodied reds like Malbec or Shiraz/Syrah will match fattier, juicier meat like steak. The medium to full-bodied reds such as a Valpolicella Ripasso make a perfect companion to pork – think BBQ spare ribs dripping in sauce (add a little of the wine to the sauce as the Italians often do). A lighter red with refreshing acidity and light tannins like a Gamay sit nicely alongside sausages or salmon and if it’s hot give the wine a chill. If you prefer veg, pretty much any red goes perfectly with a Veggie Burger, and a Grenache/Garnacha with a Jamaican Jerk Grilled Eggplant is ‘fiah’!
White wines and grilled seafood is a default that works. The varying factors in choosing your white to match your fish comes down to flavours and textures. A white Burgundy or Chardonnay pairs well for a fattier fish (tuna or trout), and a high acidity Sauvignon Blanc suits a grilled white fish. Shellfish calls out for a Sparkling Wine to work with its buttery texture. Sparkling is a beautiful palate cleanser and a perfect beer substitute. Try a Chardonnay and a Black Bean Burger with mushroom sauce for a vegetarian or vegan crowd-pleaser. And remember, if you have a red meat fest there’s nothing wrong with opening a white while the grill master does his/her thing. You can also start the festivities with a Pét Nat and blow everyone’s mind from the start (since it ferments in the bottle make sure it’s chilled, or it could literally blow. See Gareth’s video on how to open a Pét Nat here).
BBQ WINE PAIRING QUICK LIST
Burgers – Grenache blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tinto de Toro. If you like white with your red meat, try a Chardonnay but choose a more tart flavour with fresh acidity over a buttery flavour to cut through the fat.
Sausages – Gamay, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo
Hot Dogs – Pinot Grigio
Chicken – Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache-dominated blends, Chardonnay, Fiano, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc Blend
Lamb – Beaujolais, young Rioja, Pinot Noir. If prepared with lemon and herbs, try Assyrtiko and if it is spicy pair with a dry Rosé.
BBQ Brisket – Pinot Noir, Rioja
Salmon – Chardonnay, Fiano, Pinot Gris, chilled Gamay or Pinot Noir. Try a white Priorat (Viognier, White Rioja). It is not the norm in Priorat so it may be a topic of conversation among the wine nerds at the party.
Tuna – White Burgundy, Pinot Noir, dry Rosé
Grilled White Fish – Friulano, Verdejo, White Vinho Verde, Colombard
Shellfish – Sparkling wine, Albariño, White Grenache, Viognier, Picpoul de Pinet, Muscat