Best Wines to Pair with Barbecue

Wine with Barbecue
Wine with Barbecue

When summer is there, as per research, the most popular outdoor amusement is top wines with bbq voted by 65% of the total (selected) participating Americans. The rest 35% chose different activities like pool parties, picnics, outdoor concerts, summer festivals, different types of sports, etc. Nevertheless, those who did not choose the BBQ and wine agreed that they would get crazy if bbq and wine are added to other summer activities.

So, there is no doubt about the popularity of bbq and wine but the question is why only wine and not beer or other liquor? Secondly, if wine, what type of wine and bbq recipe go well and why? The questions are genuine and relevant, especially for barbeque lovers and the answers may be complex. Below is an attempt for the answers that may be interesting for you if you have already tasted and tested or are new to bbq and wine.

Why does Wine Goes Best with BBQ Compared to Beer and Other Alcohols?

It may be subject to your personal preference or taste when it comes to combining bbq with either wine or beer or other alcohol. Beer might be your first preference as a matter of choice or you like the taste of other alcohols to combine with BBQ. Secondly, some BBQ recipes necessarily go well with beer compared to wine when it comes to taste and aroma. However, below are a few reasons why most people choose wine over beer and other alcohols with BBQ.

  • In general, BBQ, especially the meat, pairs the most with red wines (and white wine for fish) compared to beer and other alcohol. One of the primary reasons for this is the balancing characteristics of red wine. The high fat and umami in the meat balance with the tannin in the red wine.
  • Pork BBQ is usually seasoned with spicy, sweet, and smoky flavors and sauces. Adding red wine for season pork BBQ balances the spice and smoke and further gives a fruity flavor to the smoky and spicy dishes.
  • Red wine can be added to any BBQ including vegetable BBQ. It gives augmented flavors and a papery and fruity taste.
  • Wine is acidic and crispy compared to beer and other alcohol. On the other hand, BBQ is all about its fatty richness. The crispness and acidity of the wine make every bite of the BBQ extra flavorful and delicious. Similarly, the sweetness of wines helps offset the spice in the BBQ and makes it unique.
  • When it comes to a health concern, beer develops bone health and prevents osteoporosis beyond debate. But wine, especially red wine is far more beneficial than beer. The tannin in red wine protects you from high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Tannin also rejuvenates your body when you consume a glass of red wine. So, pairing wine with BBQ is healthier and better than beer or other alcohol.

Everything about the Tannin in Wines

It is the tannin that makes the difference when it comes to wines that go well with different bbq styles. In simple, it is the tannin that makes the best pairing of wine and BBQ. Ultimately, every wine and BBQ lover might wonder what then the tannin is and whether it is good or bad. Tannin is explained as a naturally and organically occurring polyphenol usually found in wood, bark, leaves, fruit skins, seeds, and plants. The scientific explanation of polyphenol is a type of micro-molecule or a complex bond of hydrogen and oxygen molecules that are made out of molecules.

Tannin adds complexity, astringency, and bitterness to wine and is found mostly in red wines. However, red wines also have tannin properties, especially those fermented on skins or from aging wooden barrels. Other foods that contain tannin properties are almonds, tea leaves, walnuts, dark chocolate, grapes, pomegranates, cinnamon, clove, etc.

Tannin is not at all bad for anything consuming, especially in relation to health. Instead, tannin has many health benefits. A study that compared the effects of tea and wine tannin and the oxidation in the body, found that wine tannin resisted oxidation but tea did not. Eventually, it was proved that tannin is an effective antioxidant.

What are the Wines that Contain Maximum Tannin and are Best for Paring?

All red wines contain the most tannins compared to white wines. However, all red wines are different and contain different levels of tannin. Below are some high-tannin red wines.

  • Sagrantino: The Italian Sagrantino is a tannin treasure that contains the maximum level of tannin.
  • Nebbiolo: This is another Italian brand made out of grapes that contains a high level of tannin and bitterness.
  • Tannat: This red wine made from Uruguay’s grapes comes first when it comes to the intensity of tannin. The wine has the highest tannin compared to all other red wines.
  • Petite Sirah: Petite Syrah is a popular red wine from France with a powerful flavor and a high concentration of tannin.
  • Petite Verdot: This famous product from Bordeaux’s grapes contains a high level of tannin.
  • Monastrell: Most popular in France and Spain, Monastrell has a very high level of tannin.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a brand known to all and is made from grapes that are planted worldwide. The tannin from Cabernet Sauvignon has the highest aging ability.

Wines that Go Well with Different BBQ Styles

In fact, it is not like strictly buying 10 types of specific wines and imposing pairing with different BBQ dishes. Nevertheless, you can do that when occasions urge you to enjoy special moments with your friends and family. 

For example, you are organizing an important gathering of friends and family for a special occasion and planning for a backyard BBQ and are confused about the pairing. You will definitely choose the right wines that go well with the different BBQ dishes and provide your guests with a unique experience. However, some wines are all-rounder and pair well with all kinds of BBQ dishes. Below are some all-rounder wines to pair with all kinds of BBQ dishes.

  • Dry rose.
  • Malbee.
  • Gamay.
  • Riesling.
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Champagne.
  • Other wines that may be your favorite or your friends and family suggest.

Below are wines that go well with different types of BBQ recipes or ingredients:

Red Wines

Red Wine
Red Wine in Glass

Red wines, especially Shiraz or Malbec go well with BBQ sauce-based proteins and are the best and most popular wines that go well with barbecue. Most beef cuts and beef dishes with simple dry rub and minimum or no sauces make a perfect combination with red wines. Similarly, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be wonderful to pair with a New York Ribeye or Strip.

Fruity red and bold wines with minimum tannin like Merlot, Zinfandel, or Syrah are best for pork ribs and chicken cuts with BBQ sauce. This combination can excellently result in meat flavor for a unique experience of BBQ. 

If your favorite is the heavily spiced beef brisket, then an oak-aged and full-bodied Zinfandel would be the best bet. On the other hand, Pinot Noir is another amazing option for your turkey with a rub. It also does well with lamb or several types of pork dishes like tenderloin or pork chops as well as other recipes like grilled salmon or smoked beef brisket.

Rose Wines

Rose Wine
Rose Wine in Glasses

Rose is another excellent paring option with BBQ primarily because of its acidic properties. Its acidity leads to bonding marvelously with different kinds of seafood and lightly-seasoned chicken wings. It also works incredibly for bolder cuts of pork and beef. There are different styles when it comes to Rose wines. There are lighter and crispy Roses as well as darker and bold flavors. Bold Roses, especially from Washington State or Spain, or South America can pair perfectly with brisket.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling Wine
Sparkling Wine in Glasses

Everyone gets amused by the bubbles of Sparkling wines. But more than the bubbles, Sparkling wines are the most versatile and are perfect wines that go well with different bbq styles. Sparkling wines are also the best for pairing with grilled and smoked dishes. However, seafood BBQ and Sparkling wine pairing can be unique when it comes to flavor and taste. Nevertheless, you can also pair it with desserts, chicken as well as vegetables.

White Wines

White Wine
White Wine in Glass

A popular myth about White Wines is that they are more versatile when it comes to BBQ. But the truth is White Wines are specifically good for lighter BBQs, especially seafood like fish, oysters, shrimp, etc. Pair the seafood with Verdejo and Albarino for the most flavorful and delicious BBQ. Verdejo and Albarino ultimately go well with seafood due to their stone fruit flavors and acidity.

Similar to Albarino and Verdejo, Chardonnay form an excellent pairing with fishes and shellfishes. But Chardonnay also pairs perfectly with pork and chicken. However, Chardonnay comes in different styles. So, you need to pair the lighter Chardonnay with lighter ingredients and pair the smoky flavor and bolder BBQs with oaked and full-bodied Chardonnay.

Pairing Wines with BBQ At a Glance

  • BBQ chicken: Chardonnay.
  • Steak: Syrah and Malbee.
  • Pork chops: Riesling, Dry Rose, and Valpolicella.
  • Halloumi: Semillion, Sauvignon Blane, and Assyrtiko.
  • Burgers: Zinfandel.
  • Sardines: Picpoul dePinet and Albarino.
  • Sausages: Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Gamay.
  • Salmon: Pinot Gris, Rose Champagne, and chilled Pinot Noir.
  • Veggie: Dry Rose, Chenin Blane, and Gamay.

Popular American BBQs and the Best Wine to Pair

American BBQ
Grilled Meats

BBQ is no more a regional or area-specific phenomenon. It has spread across the world to almost every country and the city often with different names and styles. For example, there are about 5 different styles of BBQs in the US alone. Below are the 5 different styles of BBQs and the best or perfect wines to pair.

  • Texas BBQ Beef Brisket: Texas-style BBQ, especially beef brisket BBQ is famous for its flavorful and delicious taste. Pairing the Texas beef brisket BBQ with GSM blend, Australian Shiraz, and Tempranillo is simply awesome.
  • South Carolina Spice and Mustard-based BBQ: The uniqueness of South Carolina BBQ is the blend of mustard and spices. The best wines to pair with this BBQ style are Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Aglianico, and Sangiovese.
  • Plain BBQ Pork: You can pair Garnacha, Dry Riesling, and Zinfandel to make the best with the plain pork BBQ.
  • North Carolina BBQNorth Carolina BBQ is somewhat similar to South Carolina but the difference is the ingredient. The similarity between the two is the use of pork and the difference is the use of chopped or pulled whole hog in the eastern part of North Carolina and pulled hog and ribs in the rest of North Carolina. The best wines to pair with North Carolina BBQ are Tannat, Monastrell, Petite Sirah, and Pinotage.
  • Kansas City BBQ: Kansas City the organizer of the world’s biggest BBQ competition is famous for its versatile Kansas City BBQs. It uses all types of meats like beef and pork and chicken and adds thick and sweet spices mixed with tomato, brown sugar, and molasses. The appropriate wines to pair with Kansas City BBQs are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and Carmenere.
  • Beef and Burger BBQ: A combination of beef and burger is an extremely popular BBQ and the best wine pairing are Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chianti, and American oak-aged Merlot.

Essential Tips for Pairing BBQ and Wine

  • Remember, you are paring BBQ and wine to match and complement each other and not to contrast. So, match the intensity of acid, flavor, weight, etc. However, contrasting also helps like spicy and sweet or salty and sweet, etc.
  • Red wines for meat and white meat for fish may not be always applicable as salmon is better for red wine instead for white wine.
  • Use chilled red wine if the outdoor temperature is higher or more than 20 degrees C. as it gives a better flavor.

Wines do the best to pair with BBQ but there is no thumb rule that you will strictly follow a code of conduct while choosing wines that are perfect for a bbq party. You can also sit for planning on what to pair and take advice or suggestions from your friends who might have prior experience in paring BBQ and wine creatively in a unique and new way.

Jelina, a Fanatic BBQ Lover, has worked with many BBQ brands. She is also working on a startup on her own, meanwhile, in her part-time, she helps the Homeycart team by providing the most helpful content. She shares her knowledge and combines it with the Homeycart team's research which helps people choose suitable grills as well as solve many other important issues. You can follow Jelina Roy on Twitter and Pinterest.

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