BBQ Wine Pairings

Posted by Keith Wallace

It’s finally spring here in Philly, and I want some barbeque. It’s warm enough to hang outside while slathering the ribs with sauce and cool enough to drink red wine. I’ll switch to beer come July, but I get to indulge in my two favorite pastimes together for now. There are a few types of BBQ, and there is a wine for each. Here are some of my favorite springtime BBQ wine pairings!

Memphis and Malbec

If you are a fan of wet ribs, where you slather on the sauce while they are grilling, then Malbec is where it’s at. For this BBQ, I use a Memphis sauce with plenty of brown sugar and mustard. The end result is tangy, rich, and sweetly smoked. The Famiglia Bianchi Malbec from Mendoza is a great value. It’s got enough white pepper and fig notes to complement the dish. A side of cornbread is a must.

Springtime BBQ and Wine Pairings

Bordeaux via Texas

Texas barbeque will always be the pride and joy in my household. For eight hours, smoke a brisket over hickory and pecan wood, and you have something close to heaven. I don’t serve it with the usual fixings. Instead, this gets the royal treatment: truffle-roasted fingerlings and haricot vert tossed with beef-marrow butter. I run a wine school, and eating well is part of the job description. I serve this with Bordeaux for the ultimate combination. A great option is the Chateau Les Maurines Bordeaux Superieur. It has just the right amount of structure and refined spice to hold up to this meal.

Glass of wine with barbecue elements and flames.

Southern all the Way Down

When I have the time to smoke a whole pig butt, it will be Southern Carolina style. Heavy on the vinegar and tomato, it’s magic when smoked for a day over applewood. Served on a bun or just heaped on a plate with some pickled beans and slaw, this barbeque calls for a wine heavy in Grenache and Syrah. A Côtes du Rhône will do, but I prefer the intensity and minerality of a Roussillon wine. The Domaine Força Réal “Schistes” Côtes du Roussillon Villages is a beautiful match—it magically holds its own against the porky smoke and fat—and a great value. A real steal for this meal.

The Everyday BBQ Wine

When I don’t have time to cook and want a glass of wine with a bun full of BBQ goodness, I’m doing the same thing you are: getting some mediocre takeaway. I am pulling out the mother of all barbeque wines for this meal, the Petit Sirah. When the meat isn’t stellar, the wine has to take up the slack. I opened up a bottle of Two Angels Petite Sirah tonight, and it was perfect: unstoppable lush fruit and an over-the-top body that managed to out-BBQ my BBQ. It had the tannins to make it all a bit more serious than it was, and for under $20 (the wine, not the BBQ), it was the perfect pairing.

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