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In Good Taste

How to Pair Wine with BBQ

How to Pair Wine with BBQ

Summer is the perfect season for cookouts, and nothing enhances the BBQ experience quite like the right wine. Picture this: a rib hot off the grill, slathered in your favorite sauce, paired with a glass of Syrah that complements the smokiness and enhances the flavors to perfection.

At In Good Taste, we are passionate about making wine more approachable, especially through the art of food and wine pairings. Few cuisines are as inviting as a classic BBQ cookout, and when paired with the perfect wine, BBQ can reach extraordinary heights. To help you elevate your next BBQ, we've curated a selection from our Cascade wine kit, featuring a diverse range of varietals from Washington State. Renowned for its rich and varied wine culture, Washington offers wines that beautifully complement BBQ dishes. With its splendid summer weather, Washington wine country is the perfect inspiration for celebrating the end of a long winter with a festive cookout.

So, grab a glass, and get ready to be inspired to host your own BBQ and wine pairing this summer. Here are some perfect pairings to get you started, along with tips and tricks to impress your friends.


1. Riesling

While bold reds often come to mind for BBQ pairings, lighter white wines can also be a delightful match. They might seem like an unusual choice, but chilled white wines bring a refreshing hit of acidity that can break up the big flavors of BBQ, offering a crisp counterpoint to smoky and savory dishes. We recommend keeping your white wines on ice in a cooler or in the fridge so that they can help counteract any spicy element of the dish, especially on a hot day. 

When it comes to BBQ, many wine drinkers might not immediately think of Riesling, but this versatile wine can elevate your BBQ dishes to new heights. One of the key attributes of Washington Riesling is its very subtle sweetness, which can emphasize and enhance the sweetness in BBQ sauces, creating a harmonious balance that delights the palate. 

Riesling has been a trailblazer for Washington wines since the sixties, known for its balanced finish and barely-sweet versatility. This varietal has flourished in Washington's unique climate, where warm days and cool nights allow the grapes to develop a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.

BBQ Pairings:

Grilled Shrimp Skewers: The natural acidity and slight sweetness of Riesling make it an ideal partner for grilled shrimp skewers. The citrusy notes in the Riesling enhance the flavors of the shrimp, while its balanced finish complements the smoky char from the grill.

Spicy Ribs: For spicier dishes, such as ribs with a hot BBQ sauce, Riesling is again an excellent choice. The wine’s sweetness helps to temper the spiciness of the sauce, while its acidity ensures that the richness of the ribs doesn't overwhelm the palate. This combination makes for a perfectly balanced dining experience where the flavors of the wine and the food enhance each other beautifully.

Grilled Pineapple: The natural sweetness of grilled pineapple pairs beautifully with the slight sweetness of Riesling, creating a harmonious flavor combination. Riesling's acidity balances the caramelized sugars in the grilled pineapple, preventing the pairing from becoming overly sweet and ensuring a refreshing finish.



2. Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, with its subtle fruitiness and crisp acidity, is an excellent option for BBQ pairings. This varietal, a counterpart to Pinot Noir, doesn’t concern itself with "status." It's understated, approachable, and dependable when you want a deliciously light pour. Washington State's unique climate allows Pinot Gris grapes to develop a refreshing acidity and a delicate balance of flavors, making it a versatile companion for a variety of BBQ dishes.

We like to think of this delicate white wine as a wolf in sheep's clothing because it can easily transform a bite from average to incredible, when paired with the right dish. The bright acidity of Pinot Gris cuts through the richness and fattiness of BBQ dishes, providing a refreshing contrast that keeps the palate lively. Its fruit-forward nature enhances the natural sweetness in BBQ sauces and glazes, creating a harmonious balance. When in doubt, pair Pinot Gris with anything you have the urge to eat with a squeeze of lemon, because this wine highlights citrus flavors very well. 

BBQ Pairings: 

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs: The light, crisp nature of Pinot Gris pairs wonderfully with a grilled vegetable kabob. Its refreshing acidity and subtle fruit flavors enhance the natural sweetness of the veggies, making it a perfect choice for a lighter BBQ option. Take it one step further by brushing the kabob with a bright, aromatic cilantro-lemon sauce before serving.

BBQ Chicken: Pinot Gris' versatility makes it a great match for BBQ chicken. Pinot Gris’ bright acidity cuts through the savory, slightly sweet taste of the BBQ sauce, creating a harmonious balance. Its subtle fruitiness complements the grilled flavors of the chicken without overwhelming them, making each bite as enjoyable as the first.

Grilled Fish Tacos: Pinot Gris can be an excellent pairing with grilled fish tacos.The wine's acidity helps to temper the heat of the spices, while its crisp, clean finish enhances the fresh flavors of the fish and the toppings. The subtle fruit notes in the Pinot Gris provide a refreshing contrast to the smoky and spicy elements of the dish.



3. Rosé of Syrah

Rosé of Syrah is not a super common find but its a really interesting wine to sip with BBQ. It's a versatile companion that can enhance the flavors of your BBQ dishes, from grilled meats to spicy fare. Its crisp acidity and fruit-forward profile make it a standout choice for any BBQ gathering, ensuring that each bite and sip is a delicious experience. 

Rosé of Syrah from Washington State offers a unique twist on BBQ pairings, combining the boldness of Syrah with the refreshing qualities of a rosé. Think of Rosé of Syrah as a delightful surprise at your BBQ that you can pull out to surprise people with. Its lively character can effortlessly elevate any dish from ordinary to extraordinary with its refreshing acidity and nuanced fruit notes. This rosé cuts through the richness and complexity of BBQ flavors, offering a bright contrast that keeps your palate invigorated. Keep chilled for the best results. 

BBQ Pairings for Rosé of Syrah:

Grilled Watermelon: Grilling watermelon enhances its natural sweetness and adds a subtle smoky flavor, creating a unique twist on this refreshing fruit. Rosé of Syrah’s crisp acidity helps balance the sweetness of the grilled watermelon, preventing it from becoming too cloying. Meanwhile, the fruit-forward flavors in the wine enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Pulled Pork Sliders: Rosé of Syrah's bright acidity cuts through the richness of pulled pork sliders, balancing the savory meat with its lively fruit flavors. The wine's refreshing finish makes each bite satisfying and refreshing.

Spicy Kielbasa: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, Rosé of Syrah pairs beautifully with spicy sausages. Its crisp acidity helps to tame the spiciness, while its fruity notes complement the smoky flavors of the sausage, creating a dynamic and enjoyable pairing.




4. Merlot

Known for its smooth and approachable character, Merlot’s velvety texture and rich fruit flavors create a harmonious balance with a variety of BBQ dishes. Its soft tannins and versatile flavor profile make it a crowd-pleaser at any cookout.

Washington Merlot typically boasts notes of ripe plum, cherry, and blackberry, with subtle hints of cocoa, vanilla, and spice. These characteristics make it an ideal companion for the smoky, savory, and sometimes sweet flavors of BBQ.

BBQ Pairings: 

BBQ-Glazed Chicken Wings: Merlot's smooth, fruit-forward profile pairs excellently with glazed BBQ chicken wings. Its medium body and juicy flavors enhance the savory, slightly sweet taste of the chicken, creating a well-rounded and satisfying pairing.

Grilled Pork Chops: Merlot’s subtle spice and fruit flavors are a great match for grilled pork chops. The wine’s juicy berry notes enhance the pork’s savory taste, creating a delightful contrast and balance.

Classic Cheeseburgers: Merlot’s rich fruit flavors, such as plum and blackberry, complement the savory and slightly charred flavors of grilled beef burgers. The wine’s soft tannins help balance the juiciness and fattiness of the beef and cheese, making each bite more enjoyable and well-rounded.




5. Cabernet Sauvignon

If you are a fan of steakhouse dining, then you are probably familiar with the combination of Cabernet and red meat. Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerhouse wine that elevates the flavors of BBQ dishes with its bold and robust character. Known for its full-bodied structure and intense flavors, Cabernet Sauvignon creates a harmonious balance with a variety of BBQ favorites. Its firm tannins and rich flavor profile make it a standout choice at any cookout.

Washington State is celebrated for producing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. The region's unique climate and diverse soil conditions allow the grapes to develop deep, concentrated flavors and balanced acidity. Washington Cabernet Sauvignon typically features notes of black currant, blackberry, and dark cherry, with layers of tobacco, cedar, and spice. These characteristics make it an ideal companion for the smoky, savory, and richly flavored dishes that define BBQ.

BBQ Pairings: 

Ribeye Steak: The robust, tannic structure of Cabernet Sauvignon makes it an excellent companion for a ribeye steak. The wine's bold flavors stand up to the rich, marbled meat, while its tannins help to balance the steak's fattiness.

Grilled Lamb Chops: Cabernet Sauvignon’s full-bodied nature and layers of flavor are a great match for grilled lamb chops. The wine’s dark fruit and spice notes enhance the lamb’s savory taste, creating a delightful contrast and balance.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: The earthy flavors of grilled Portobello mushrooms pair beautifully with Cabernet Sauvignon’s complex notes of blackcurrant, plum, and subtle earthiness.The wine’s tannins provide a pleasant contrast to the mushrooms’ meaty texture, enhancing the overall dining experience. Mushroom burgers are a great alternative to meat burgers for your veggie loving friends and family!



 6. Syrah

When it comes to BBQ, the bold flavors of Syrah stand out as a natural choice for BBQ pairing. Syrah’s peppery nature harmonizes perfectly with the spices often found in BBQ rubs and sauces, while its deep, smoky undertones mirror the grill's charred essence, creating a symphony of flavors on the palate.

Washington Syrah is known for its rich fruit flavors, including blackberry, plum, and blueberry, accompanied by notes of black pepper, smoked meat, and hints of dark chocolate. These flavors complement the bold flavors of grilled meats and BBQ sauces, enhancing the overall taste experience.

BBQ Pairings:

Smoked Brisket: The bold, spicy notes of Syrah are a match made in heaven for smoked brisket. The wine's depth complements the meat's robust flavors, while its tannins help to cleanse the palate between bites.

Grilled Steaks: Syrah’s bold flavors complement the robust taste of grilled steaks, enhancing the meat’s natural juices and charred exterior.

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini: Red wines pair well with grilled vegetables too! The earthy flavors of grilled eggplant and zucchini are enhanced by Syrah’s smoky undertones, creating a harmonious pairing. The wine’s complexity adds depth to the simple flavors of the grilled vegetables, while its acidity keeps the palate refreshed.

Serving Temperature 

Some purists argue that red wines should always be served at room temperature, and while they have a point, we find that chilled red wine is perfect for hot weather. Chilling your wine can make it more refreshing during the summer, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

Now you’re ready to elevate your next cookout!

Pairing the right wine with your BBQ can elevate your summer cookout to new heights. Whether you're grilling shrimp, smoking brisket, or enjoying a ribeye steak, there's a wine that will enhance your culinary experience. Cheers to a delicious and memorable summer cookout!

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