Barbecue-Friendly Wines

We recently came across a guide offering wine suggestions for summertime grilling, and one of the recommendations was Merlot.

We love Merlot. We drink a lot of Merlot. It’s wonderful with so many dishes. But we do not drink Merlot with barbecue.

Why? Because there are so many other types of wine that are better matches.

When considering which gift of the grape to uncork with your next outdoor cooking adventure, please remember this poem:

Barbecue with Merlot?

Just say no!

Instead, say yes to…

  • Riesling. Yes, a white wine with meat. In this case, the meat is pork in the form of brats, grilled and accented with various hot and sweet toppings such as onions and mustard. Opt for a Riesling that is completely dry in order to achieve the perfect pairing.
  • Semillon. Another white wine, and one that matches beautifully with grilled shrimp. (Sauvignon Blanc also works quite nicely.)
  • Syrah. Renditions from the Rhone, in particular, have a smoky characteristic that melds seamlessly with the smoke from the grill. Syrah plus smoked brisket yields big smiles.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon. We almost included this variety in our “just say no to Merlot” rant, but as long as you grill a steak using a gas flame (i.e., one that imparts no flavor to the meat), Cabernet makes a great pairing partner. A big Cab with a big hunk of beef? Yeah, we can make do with that.
  • Pinot Noir. As much at home with grilled salmon as it is with a grilled burger. Its silky texture is easy to love.
  • Dry Rose. Almost regardless of the grape, a rose-style wine, well chilled, holds up nicely next to most types of grilled meat.
  • Gewurztraminer. Another white wine, and one to consider when eating grilled Cajun-style chicken or almost any type of blackened fish.
  • Zinfandel. We have saved the best for last. And what makes Zin the go-to variety for grilled food? First, it pairs nicely with almost any kind of meat. And second, it possesses a peppery/spicy quality that complements any type of grilling fuel (from charcoal to oak chips) and all but the very hottest of barbecue sauces.


Here’s another poem for you to remember:

Want to win?

Go with Zin!

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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