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Wine and Barbecue Pairing – Perfect Matching

Barbecue season is finally upon us, and if you’re like me, for the next three months, just about every dinner will be cooked on the grill. As such, it’s time to stock up on wines that I know will suit. These meals will all have a fair bit of smoke going on, often with some umami and fat. Red wine is a safe bet, as tannins help balance our rich, complex flavours and cut through fat, but there are also some full-bodied whites that can hold their own in the char department.

Here are some suggested starting points for pairing wine with a range of barbecued foods this summer:


Fish, prawns and other crustaceans can be lighter dishes, but become less delicate when hit with char and smoke. White wine that is fresh and zesty but still rich and full is a good way to meet this balance of delicate and robust – lightly oaked Chardonnay or Italian Friulano are great options, as is a full bodied rosé . If you’re a red wine drinker, a Beaujolais is a bonne idée.

Chicken, Pork and Veggies

When chicken, pork or veggies are cooked on the barbecue, the typically savoury foods caramelise, balancing elements of savoury and sweet. Wine that is herbal and slightly sweet is well-suited for such dishes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Rioja Blanco, or even an off-dry Riesling. If you’re a red wine drinker, think fruit forward options with some body – Zinfandel or warm climate Pinot Noir would be lovely.


Sausages and Burgers

Sausages and burgers pack more fat than seafood and poultry. They also often incorporate complex flavours (i.e. fennel sausage, seasoned patties). A red wine that is fruity but also also tannic, perhaps with some sharp notes of pepper or tobacco, can stand up to these dishes – Cabernet, Merlot and Grenache are easy options for me to grab when when I’ve got burgers or snags on the grill.

Brisket, Steak and Lamb 

Barbecued brisket, steak and lamb all tend to be quite fatty, rich and savoury. They become even more intensely flavoured when they spend some time on the grill, so you’ll want to be matching these grilled meats with a pretty serious wine – think plenty of tannins, spice, body, and some fruit. A glass of Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo or Chianti with barbecued red meat will bring out the best in both the wine and food.

For more ideas on what to sip on through the summer, click here, or check out our other wine and food pairing articles here.

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