How To'sTips

How To Pair Wine with Barbecued Foods

By Christopher Stewart | July 3, 2013

steak, wine, grill

Deciding what wine to pair with grilled steak is easier than you think. (Photo: mike912mueller)

The start of the grilling season means delicious smokey meals, perfectly charred dinners, and even grill-inspired desserts. While a nice glass of your favorite wine is desired for any meal, when the grills come out, the bottles of wine seem to go in. But just like you pair your wine with your light salad for lunch or a hearty stew that’s been cooking all day for dinner, wine can also be paired with grilling and barbecue.  For the holiday weekend and many sunny weekends after, here are 3 tips to help you pair wine at your next barbecue. 

The same principle follows: 

It’s common to pair light wines with light foods and rich wines with rich foods. Pairing wine and grilled foods is no different. The technique of grilling and barbecuing brings on new delicious flavors that wine can help accentuate. Just like a typical wine pairing, you want to keep the flavors, additional ingredients and cooking methods in mind. These are key factors in which wine you will be serving, so preparing your grilling menu before hand will help the with the wine selection, even if it’s just a simple menu of hot dogs, brats, and a salad. Wine and food should compliment, not dominate.

Red, White & Pairings: 

Start off with the basics about what you know about pairing wine with food. If you know that steak typically gets a big bold red wine like a Cabernet, grilled burgers, and ribs come in second. If your grilled lamb kebabs have been accompanied with herbs, take into consideration a Grenache or a Syrah, which will help highlight the gaminess of the lamb. Red sangria is also good for grilling. The red wine used in the sangria and the sweetness of the fruit complement the smoke and the char. Grilling meaty mushrooms also calls for red wine, and the bubbles of a Lambrusco cuts the fat on your palate from a rack of saucy ribs.

Salads, summer vegetable and pasta dishes are great for barbecues and white wines and bubbly fit well here. Riesling shines with hot dogs and sausages. Typically on the saltier side, sausages and Riesling become friends when the sweetness of some Rieslings meet the salty fattiness of a grilled sausage. Fumé Blancs, Chardonnays, Champagnes, and Pinot Gris will cover everything from grilled vegetables, lightly grilled fish, and grilled chicken. Remember it’s ok to add bubbly to your barbecue, having Champagne or a sparkling wine will help cleanse the palate from rich foods.

Let’s not forget dessert! A grilled pound cake or lightly grilled peaches call for a sparkling Moscato.

It’s all about you: 

Dining al fresco, throwing a weekend barbecue or lighting up the grill for a different spin on tonight dinner are all wonderful things. The ultimate goal is to have a amazing time with friends and family over great food. The one thing to remember is, you don’t have to stress over the exact pairing of food with wine. Drinking what you like will not only be familiar, but it will also help you to enjoy time with friends and family.

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