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Food & Wine

It’s Grilling Season: 5 Best Wines for BBQ Foods

May 26, 2021

Written By Coravin

Things are heating up here at Coravin HQ – the sun is shining, temperatures are climbing, and our team is working hard to change the way the world experiences wine. As a team, we like to work hard and play hard. For us, summertime means spending time collaborating all day, then drinking wine on our favorite restaurant patios or in our backyards by night. Then, on weekends, we’re all about the outdoor grilling sessions or barbecues. 

Cookouts utilizing the grill (cooking with hot flame) or BBQ (indirect cooking with smoke) are a fixture of warm weather gatherings here in New England where Coravin HQ is located. In this roundup, find the best wine for BBQ foods like grilled chicken, burgers, and BBQ ribs. 

TL;DR: When in doubt choose Rosé. This refreshing pink wine goes with almost every grilled or smoked food. Read on for more specific BBQ wine pairings. 

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Sweet BBQ Pork and Zinfandel

Sweet sauce calls for sweet wine. If you’re smoking some pork flavored with sweet BBQ sauce (think: honey BBQ, maple BBQ, or the classic Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce), opt for a Zinfandel or Riesling. These two wines are great entry-level wines if you’re hoping to introduce some friends to your beverage of choice. 

Spicy BBQ Steak and Sangiovese

With every sweet option, we need to give you a spicy one. For spicy, black pepper BBQ sauce paired with steak, we recommend a medium-bodied red like Sangiovese or Spanish Tempranillo. Both have cherry notes, herb flavors, and medium-high acidity. You’ll also be pleased to find high-quality, affordable options in your local wine shop.

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Grilled Chicken and Sauvignon Blanc

White meat pairs well with white wine. For classic grilled chicken, we recommend Sauvignon Blanc or, if you’re hoping to try something new, a Vinho Verde is sure to be a summertime crowd pleaser. 

Beef Burgers and Cabernet Sauvignon 

What’s a cookout without classic beef burgers? This summer staple calls for one of the world’s most popular wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, with a Syrah or Shiraz coming in at a close second. Cabernet Sauvignon’s black fruit flavors combined with notes of cedar, baking spices, and graphite, pair well with grilled red meats and peppery sauces. If you’re trying to choose between Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Syrah, choose Cab Sauv for black peppery burgers and Syrah for burgers with a spicy kick. 

Veggie Skewers and Chenin Blanc

We can’t leave out the veggies. While vegetables are often an afterthought at the cookout, they have the potential to be the star of the show. Our top pick for grilled veggies or veggie skewers is Chenin Blanc followed by a white Bordeaux. Chenin Blanc is a light-bodied, high-acidity white wine with refreshing fruit, chamomile, and honey flavors. 

Missing from our shortlist are grilled fish dishes. For salmon, we like something sparkling. For white fish, you could make those grilled chicken wines do double-duty. We know there’s many more we could add. Tell us what you’d add to the list: Tag us in your BBQ wine pairings on social all summer long – we love to see what you’re sippin’ on.