Skip to content
The perfect wines for grilling season
As the weather heats up, so does the primal urge to grill and barbecue. A cold beer might seem like a logical choice to pair with outdoor fare, but the right wine can be equally delicious and satisfying.
The key to pairing wine with barbecued and grilled foods is picking selections that will keep you refreshed and won't weigh you down in hot weather. But they have to be bold and intense enough to stand up to the smoke flavor of the grill and the spicy and tangy flavors that come from marinades and sauces.
With grilling, I tend to reach for wines such as zinfandel, malbec, syrah and most Spanish reds since they often feature flavors commonly found in barbecue cuisine. I also have discovered unusual pairings such as sparkling roses with ribs and white wine blends with side dishes that can be a surprising hit.
Here are my wine pairing suggestions with a variety of barbecued foods. Also, don't be afraid to cool your wines down a bit--even the red wines--to compensate for the warmer weather. Hot wine is never much fun to drink.
Side dishes Clos Otto boxhead white, Australia, $11 This fruity yet crisp and dry white blend of chardonnay, semillon and sauvignon blanc will complement the richness of macaroni and cheese, potato salads and buttered corn on the cob. It also is light enough to pair with summer salads.
Gran Sarao rose, Spain, $10
The bubbles in this dry rose provide a refreshing contrast to the richness and fat component of ribs. The acidity complements the tanginess of barbecue sauce. Trust me, this pairing is really good!
Cline Oakley five reds, California, $9
The sauce for pulled pork tends to be both sweet and tangy, especially if you are serving the pork with creamy coleslaw. A medium bodied, fruit forward red such as this blend will tackle both ends of the flavor spectrum.
Palin syrah, Chile, $13
This particular preparation of brisket tends to have a pronounced smoky flavor, so you need a wine that is equally smoky, meaty and peppery. (Also, the winery is pronounced Puh-leen and has no connection to the governor of Alaska.)
Brats, hot dogs and sausages
Charles & Charles rose, Washington, $10
The mouth-watering and vibrant flavors of this dry, syrah-based rose really bring out the juicy goodness in all kinds of encased meats. I like to refer to rose wines as fruit punch for adults, and no summer is complete without them.
Bodega NQN Picada 15 Red, Argentina, $10
Whether you're serving up veggie- or meat-based patties, this smooth and luscious blend from Patagonia will have you saying, "I'm thinking Argentina."
Alpana Singh is director of Wine and Spirits for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and the host of PBS "Check, Please" on WTTW.