What Wines Pairs Best With Your Barbecue
It’s Barbeque season! Summer is in full effect and much of the country is struggling through a brutal heatwave. It’s time for some smoky good flavors that you can enjoy outdoors.
For many of us, it’s also a great time to kick back and sip on our favorite wines while enjoying time with our loved ones. The only thing that goes better with grilled barbecue than sunshine and summer break is your favorite sweet, savory, and crisp wines from sauvignon blancs all the way to malbecs. As some of the best BBQ Catering in South Jersey, we want to provide you with a wine guide for your BBQ.
White versus Red
Although there are dozens of palatable pairings with both white and red wines, your preference might dictate which of these you decide to try first. Hot summer days might mean that you’ll want to reach for the chilled flavor of a white wine, however, red wines can be chilled too to help you beat the heat. Don’t be afraid to chill your bottles of red wine if that’s the desired effect; chilling can also help bring out some of the more subtle flavors of the bottle you’re pairing with your barbecue.
White Wine Pairings: from Sparkling to dry, to sweets
For pairing wines with food, we typically categorize white wines in the following order: light dry white, sweet white, rich white, and sparkling wines. These categories describe the sweetness, effervescence or lack thereof, tannins, and mouthfeel. “Dry” describes wines that are less sweet and create a dry after-taste. “Sparkling” describes the presence of carbonation, and “rich” in this case describes the more complex, and often sweeter flavor, of the wine.
Light dry whites often include Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigios, and Albarino. These drier flavors pair wonderfully with green veggies, like in your pre-dinner salad, and lighter meat like fish and other seafood. It can also pair well with starches and carbs and works as a good prelude to the main course of your grilled summertime meal.
Chenin Blancs, Moscato, and Rieslings are considered the “sweet white” wines, and similar to light dry whites, pair well with foods at the beginning and end of the meal. These wines are generally very sweet, and for this reason, go best with soft cheeses and starchy flavors before the meal. They also pair well with the after-dinner dessert if you’re still craving something sweet and chilly after your grilled entree. They can, however, balance out the smokey flavor of cured meats for those who like to experience the flavorful juxtaposition of sweet and smokey.
Chardonnays, especially oaked, and Viogniers are known as the “rich whites,” and tend to pair best with complimentary rich flavors. If you’re grilling rich fish, roasting veggies with your barbecue, or grilling white meats, rich white wines will best complement these flavors. Grilled shellfish in particular will go over well with the rich flavor of an oaky Chardonnay.
Sparkling wines are often used similar to beer and grilled barbecue because the effervescence of a sparkling white can help to cleanse the pallet. If you’re grilling a variety of foods and want to sample different barbecued flavors and sauces, sparkling wines like Champagne, Prosecco and Cava can help maintain the integrity of each new flavor as you experience it. Sparkling whites also pair well with all of your pre-entree accouterments like green veggies, roasted veggies, soft cheeses, and fish.
Light, Medium, and Big Reds, all the way through to Dessert
Similar to the categorizations of white wines, for the purpose of food pairing, red wines can be classified into four different categories. These include light reds, medium reds, big reds, and dessert reds, like port wine. These wines are categorized by their “bodies,” or mouthfeel of the wine. This simply means how heavy or light the wine feels in your mouth.
Light reds include Pinot Noirs and Grinches. These wines feel the lightest in your mouth and pair best with lighter meats like shellfish and chicken. They’re less hearty, and for this reason can also pair well with carbs and starches, as well as roasted veggies.
Medium reds pair better with the barbecued meats you’ll be grilling all summer. The complex and versatile flavors of a tasty Merlot, Sangiovese, or Tempranillo are good company for the smoky flavors of cured meats, grilled red meats, and even grilled white meats, like chicken. This category of red also pairs well with hard cheeses, either as an h’orderve or accompaniment to the main meal.
Big reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Zinfandel, and Syrah are similarly paired. They’re great with the red and smoked meats that are staples of the hot-weather barbecue. The hearty, complex flavors of these wines are great finishers for the full flavor of smokey barbecue sauces and grilled meat flavors.
Port wines, Tawny ports, and Sherries are typically referred to as “dessert wines,” and for good reason. These wines are meant to be sipped in much smaller portions than your usual 6-ounce pour of red or white wine. They can also be served chilled or at room temperature, depending on your preference and the variety. Naturally, they pair best with dessert, but can also provide that same sweet-to-savory juxtaposition of flavor when paired with smoky flavors and cured grilled meats.
No matter what type of wine you may already enjoy, or where you’d like to start on the spectrum, there is always a place for your preferred bottle at this summer’s barbecue. From sweet to savory, light to full-bodied, all types of wine have a place around the picnic table. It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to purchase an expensive bottle in order for it to perfectly balance your barbecued meal. When looking for perfect pairs, start simple, and read the flavor descriptors on your favorite bottles of sauces and marinades. Try a different bottle with your h’orderves, salads, entrees, and desserts. Follow this guide, try new flavors, and enjoy the infinite number of wine and barbecue pairings all season long! Now that you know what barbecue pairs with your favorite wine, visit our website to learn more about BBQ catering options in the Philadelphia area.