How to Choose the Best Wines for BBQ Pairings

Let us show you how to find the perfect wines for your BBQ 

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bbq wine

Let us show you how to find the perfect wines for your BBQ 

© Shutterstock How to Choose the Best Wines for BBQ Pairings Fire up that BBQ and be the ultimate host by pairing every piece of meat and vegetable with the perfect wine match.

It is easy to get the wine right for your barbecue as long as you observe some ground rules. They set you up for success from the get-go.

The most important thing is the correct serving temperature of the wines. White and sparkling wines will lose freshness and tension when served too warm, so invest in a quantity of ice to keep chilled wines at the ready. They will warm up quickly once poured in a glass. Likewise, red wines also can take some brief chilling – serving them too warm will accentuate their alcoholic strength. Adequate chilling of both and serving them in not too large glassware will ensure optimal conditions.

Start with the whites first, followed by some reds, essentially in the same order as you would grill your ingredients. Hold off from putting that ribeye on too early and don’t forget to refresh and cool down with some bubbles in between.

Tiger prawns, swordfish & corn on the cob

Prawns are often the first to go on the BBQ. They cook quickly, feed a hungry crowd and make an ideal appetiser. Getting this wine choice right is crucial and best to aim for a crowd-pleaser. Top choices are youthful (1-3 year old) Alvarinho/Albariño, mid-weight Grüner Veltliner, or Torrontés. All of them burst with a citrusy element and a lively, crisp finish. They leave you refreshed yet will also work with other fish grills: they cut nicely through the richness of more meaty fish like swordfish and monkfish. The best tip here is to zest some lemon on top of the fish to enhance the citrusy note in both wine and food.

Prawns go well with fresh & lively white wines

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Pulled pork with coleslaw & couscous salad

Assyrtiko from Santorini, Fiano from Campania or Catarratto and Carricante blends from Etna in Sicily are just some examples of volcanic-influenced masterpieces. Their salinity and freshness are best combined with pulled pork, ideally served with some home-made coleslaw and sweet potato fries. The ability to diffuse any given richness in the dish makes them ideal all-rounders but your couscous salad will love them, too.

Pulled pork is best paired with volcanic-influenced wines 

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Marinated white meat, seafood and hot, spicy dishes

Layered liquid treasures like vintage Champagne do not need fancy food, on the contrary, they start to shine when contrasted with simple but perfectly grilled meat: this reveals their multifaceted and complex structure. I personally find great joy in putting them side by side with chicken thighs with a sprinkle of dried rosemary. Because of their moderate alcohol level, hot, spicy or heavily charred dishes are another smart way of pairing them. As long as you give your favourite vintage fizz some time in the sun, not literally, it will surprise everyone.

Vintage Champagnes are ideal for marinated white meat. 

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Skewers of any kind

Orange or low intervention wine styles promote low alcohol levels, good natural levels of acidity and texture in form of phenolic structure. All of these make them an ideal partner with a variety of different textures and flavours – and they even handle hot and spicy elements well. Veggie skewers with halloumi, onions and courgettes are utterly delightful with low intervention examples of Ribolla Gialla, Rkatsiteli and Pinot Grigio. Temperature-wise they should sit between white and red.


Low intervention wines handle hot and spicy elements very well

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Red meat & sausages or red pepper & mushrooms

Full-bodied yet not heavy reds

Remember that temperature is key to serving full bodied but not heavy red wines, keeping them at 15° to 17°C gives them a lovely fresh kick and hides their muscular structure well. Southern Rhône blends like Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas perform well. Pure Grenache expressions from Barossa in Australia are more perfumed and splendid with more exotic meats like emu or even kangaroo. Other unsung heroes are Zinfandel from the US especially those blended with Carignan or Petite Sirah. All you need is a leap of faith.

Red wines which are full-bodied but not heavy pair well with grilled meat

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