The no-fuss guide to pairing wine with barbecue food
Depending on where you are in the world, hosting a barbecue can run the whole gamut of effort, from a care-free gathering in the afternoon sun to a trying test of endurance in the face of biblically adverse weather. Regardless of the conditions, though, a good barbecue is all about flavour, so here are the best wines to serve alongside the dishes at your sizzling soiree – even if you end up enjoying them as you shelter indoors.
As a general rule, bold red wines pair well with red meat, as the higher umami and fat in the meat balances out the tannins in red wine.
When it comes to pork, think sweet versus savoury. Fruity red wines and those with a hint of sweetness pair particularly well. Consider a Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or for a refreshing twist, ruby Port over ice.
For beef, you can really enhance the meat’s flavours by playing up its tobacco and pepper aromas. Go for a Chianti, Shiraz, Tempranillo or bold Bordeaux.
Poultry and fish
White meats require the more delicate flavours of whites and rose wines, which act as palate cleansers and don’t overwhelm the meat’s already subtle taste. Exactly which wines work the best will depend on the way the meat has been prepared.
For grilled and herby chicken, choose a herbal wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner or Grechetto. For glazed and sticky chicken, go for a sweeter wine to complement the sauce. Think white Zinfandel, rose, dryer Rieslings or even a Gewurztraminer.
Meanwhile, grilled white fish with buttery sauces pair well with white Vinho Verde, Colombard and Verdejo, while salmon is nicely complemented by white Rioja, Viognier and Chardonney, and even some reds, like a lighter-bodied Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.
Grilled or roasted veggies boast sweet, intensified flavours, and as such should be paired with suitably full-flavoured wines. Whether you opt for a red or white wine is largely a matter of personal preference, but balance is key. Red peppers pair well with Tempranillo-based wines, roasted aubergines with warm Riojas and lighter greens such as courgettes and asparagus with a fresh, zingy Sauvignon Blanc. Tomato-heavy dishes, meanwhile, do well with big Italian reds such as Barberas and Montepulciannos.
What there is to know about pairing cheese and wine could easily fit a dozen encyclopaedic tomes, but as far as barbecues are concerned, there are two major players: halloumi and feta. Both do well with high-acid wines to help balance their saltiness – consider a southern French white, or perhaps a counter-balancing sweet Riesling. The herby nature of feta also means it does well with a fruity white – those from Languedoc-Roussillon will fit the bill.