The Perfect BBQ Friendly Wines
By Fabiana Santana
One of the best parts of summer is the backyard BBQ. But just because you’re hands are replacing utensils for dinner, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to raise a glass, too. As we learn and experiment more and more with food and wine pairings, we are enjoying vino in a variety of new ways.
When choosing wine for a BBQ, think of the flavors of the foods you will be eating. If “meat” is your first response, think harder! What kind of meat will you, or someone else if you are a guest, be serving? Dry rub or saucy? Spicy or smoky? Those are the flavor points you want to think about when you are choosing a wine for a cookout.
Sangria is a no brainer when it comes to a backyard party. Not only is it delicious, but its fruit filled presentation can really bring a tablescape to life. And, it’s a good transition wine for guests that might not be ready abandon their brew for a bottle of wine.
Sangria tends to be a fruitier wine – made with a good red wine, brandy or rum, and lots of fresh fruit and juice. Some have a base of citrus while others might have a berry blend base. The flavors in sangria will pair nicely with most Caribbean or flavored BBQ sauces like those that have hints of honey or brown sugar.
Making your own sangria is super easy and it also means you can control the sweetness of it. When you are mixing up a batch for your BBQ, keep a sampling of your BBQ sauce nearby. When your wine is ready, take a sip and then sample a bit of the sauce and see what you think. What wins? Is the acid in the sauce too strong? If so, then maybe add more sugar. Adjust your flavors until you have the perfect balance. This is a great way to taste test not just the wine, but your dinner, too!
Sparkling wines are always perfect for summer, so why shouldn’t they work with BBQ as well? The light, floral, crisp flavors associated with most Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava are ideal for refreshing your taste buds during or after BBQ friendly foods and work really nicely as a dessert wine if you are serving fresh fruit like strawberries or any kind of sorbet.
When choosing a white wine for a BBQ, avoid the heavy and oakey stuff. So no California style chardonnays or older vintages. Instead, opt for lighter style wines like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc. They will be especially delicious with grilled steaks, chicken and any kind of grilled pork. Save the BBQ pork for Gewurztraminer, which will help cut through the heaviness of the food. Also, this is the perfect wine to serve with anything spicy – think jerk style rubs or spicy BBQ sauce.
A German style Riesling is ideal if you prefer wines on the sweeter style and especially if you are grilling up any type of seafood like shrimp, scallops, or whole fish.
Cabernet and Sangiovese will work nicely with hearty steaks and sausages all summer long. These are especially good selections if your BBQ is more of a dinner party style, where one dish is served instead of a cornucopia of foods throughout the day.
But if hamburgers and hot dogs are the stars of the grill, then be sure to have plenty of Zinfandel, Merlot and Rioja on hand. Both Zinfandel and Merlot are good all-around choices for BBQ friendly wines as they work nicely with most meats. They should be well balanced and smooth, not overly alcoholic. So choose younger varieties with nice fruit and balanced acidity. Look for an alcohol percentage of 12 or under.
Spanish Rioja’s are delicious as well. Their bold, fresh, fruit forward flavors stand up nicely against the equally bold flavors of a lot of rubs and sauces. Ribs, brisket, and spicy wings will taste great with Rioja!
- 1 Bottle Red Wine – Rioja style wine preferred
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 orange
- 1 cups of peach flavored rum
- ½ cup of fresh lemon and orange juice with 3 tablespoons of sugar mixed in, cut into wedges
- 5 strawberries, cut in half
- 1 apple, cut into chunks
- 2 cups club soda or gingerale
Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice from the wedges of lemon, orange and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges. Add the rum and lemon/orange juice mixture and let chill ideally overnight or at least 3 hours.
Before serving, add the soda, berries, apples and ice.