BBQ Wine Pairing


Ultimate Guide to BBQ Wine Pairing

Although pairing wines with barbeque can seem like a daunting task it is still quite simple. Follow these recommendations to find the perfect wine pairings to enhance your cookout.

Pairing Wines with BBQ

With all wine pairings, the most important rule is to drink wine that you like. The recommendations below are not prescriptions, rather they are encouragement and invitations to explore the limitless flavor combinations of wine and barbeque.   Remember that the purpose of combining food and wine is to create a synergy of flavors and textures that are balanced. You don’t want the food to overwhelm your wine, nor do you want your wine to overwhelm your food.  Wine, just like side dishes, should be used as an accompaniment to enhance the flavor of the main dish.  Wine’s acids, tannins, alcohol, and overall flavor profile ideally provide either parallels or contrasts to the flavors, body, texture, intensity, and taste of your dishes. When it comes to grilling and barbecuing, the most important advice we can provide is to not concentrate too much on the kind of meat you’re cooking. Rather, let the wine you chose be determined by the spices, sauces, and glazes used.

Wine Pairing with BBQ Ribs 

BBQ ribs and wine make for excellent meals for game days, outdoor gatherings or even a family dinner. For beef ribs, use spicy, earthier reds; for pork BBQ ribs, use more floral, more acidic red wines. For pork ribs, aim for a smooth, subtle yet texturally complex wine that matches the rich, full flavored profile of your rub or marinade! For example, our 2014 and 2015 Kessler-Haak Pinot Noirs is the perfect pairing for this Grilled Tuscan Farmhouse Ribs recipe. 

BBQ Chicken Wine Pairing 

To begin, consider the spice rub that will be applied to your chicken. Rosemary, thyme, and other common chicken ingredients are required in zesty roasted chicken that demands a fuller-bodied aromatic taste with a subtle off-dry impression. Whites from the “earthy” kind will work with the complementary taste notes here, without being overbearing. Additionally, you should also consider the chicken’s sauce or glaze. For sweet sauces, use sweet white wine; while for a sour or acidic glaze, choose earthy whites. Chardonnay: Consider bright, clean and fresh aromas with lovely tropical notes of guava and tart pineapple that pairs well with grilled chicken breasts, thighs, or whole smoked chicken. Sarah Newell, our Director of Marketing recommends 2019 Cuvee D’Inspiration Chardonnay with her “Magic Chicken Recipe”.  Check it out! Also try Rose with both meat marinated in dry spice rubs and BBQ chicken marinated in sauces made with vinegar or mustard. The exotic citrus and stone fruits notes combined with a textural mouthfeel compliments sticky BBQ sauces on chicken perfectly.

Wine Pairing with BBQ Pulled Pork

The natural tastes of slow-cooked pulled pork are only able to be balanced by a robust, flavorful wine.  Select the wines that have a full fresh and vibrant taste such as Pinot Noir. We have an elegant selection of Pinot Noir to choose from and we highly recommend the 2014 & 2015 Pinot Noir from Rancho La Vina Vineyard. Big aromatics with spice and pretty red fruit aromatics, flavors of cherries, pomegranate, and strawberries. With richness and a smooth saline texture on the palate as well as great depth and weight with a long persistent finish, these wines are complex and are the perfect touch to the slow cooked bbq pork you cooked all day. (Santa Rita Hills Pulled Pork & Country Cole Slaw)   Pulled pork meals also can pair nicely with white wines, ideally ones with plenty of acidity and through the rich pork flavors: Chardonnay and Clairette are both excellent options. Our 2020 Clarette from Watch Hill Vineyard starts with a typical “Rhône white” weight and texture but finishes clean, light and zippy. It is full of complexity yet also bright, this wine brings a chalky sweet tart, meyer lemon nose with tart white nectarines and ripe summer peaches on the palate. Our 2020 Clairette Blanche is a perfect summer white wine for the BBQ.

Wine Pairing with BBQ Beef Brisket

Brisket pairs well with full-bodied, fruit-forward wines with minimal tannins. Brisket is fatty, but it’s also very delicate and tender so there is no need with strong tannins. Pinot Noir works well with brisket because wine has a lot of vibrant, refreshing acidity and is an excellent palate cleanser. Fortunately we have a wide range of Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs to experiment with  and find  your favorite for brisket. One of our favorite pairings is the 2015 Pinot Noir from Las Hermanas Vineyard. This is all about minerality and sheer energy. It shows fabulous textural richness in its dark red fruit, not to mention a highly engaging personality. This is a very complete and promising wine that leans more on the savory side than the fruit side. If you need that final touch for the perfect BBQ brisket family meal, this is it.

Wine Pairing with Grilled Lamb

Barbecued or grilled lamb has a strong smokey flavor that can be overpowering without the correct wine pairing. Usually Pinot Noir or another bold red is the go to choice but we have found that the right Syrah can really make the difference between a normal barbecue meal and an excellent one. Syrahs provide a layer of complexity to a lamb bbq meal that is unparalleled.  One of our favorite Syrahs for grilled lamb is our 2018 Syrah from Colson Canyon Vineyard because it offers a Pure lifted, red fruit aromatics, hints of cherry-vanilla Dr. Pepper, with a dense mid-palate, well integrated, grippy tannins and persistent fruit flavors from start to finish. If you’re looking for a delicious recipe try this Mustard & Fennel Crusted Rack of Lamb.

BBQ Wines at a Glance

If you’re short on time and in need of a quick pick, select from the list below of our top versatile wines. They are a sure hit at the next BBQ, with whatever you decide to cook. The following styles should be considered: