BBQ Wine Pairing – The Best Wines For Summer Fun!

Harry Lambourne
26th April 2022

If you’re looking for a BBQ wine pairing, we’ve got you covered!

Henry James said that ‘Summer Afternoon’ were the two most beautiful words in the English language. To be fair, I’ll struggle to think of anything better.

The words are evocative. They can warm you up in winter or stoke excitement as the clock winds down on a Friday and the Saturday weather forecast is on your side.

So, we will lend a hand to help elevate whatever food you’re choosing to cook up on a sunny Summer afternoon. This article can give you a few tips for choosing a BBQ wine pairing, as well as a few specific combinations that we know you’ll love!

Too Much Choice?!

For many, a BBQ means meat. Steaks, lamb kebabs, sausages, chicken, pork chops, the list is somewhat endless in terms of potential avenues. For others, grilled vegetables and halloumi will star the show. Maybe you want fish to be the focal point of your BBQ. Then, think about all the delicious sides that round out any complete BBQ spread.

The choices are endless. Indeed that’s why a BBQ can be such a great communal event. There’s no limit on dishes. Guests can even add to the collection. There is sure to be a dish to satiate even the fussiest of eaters. However, this can mean that having the appropriate wine can seem a daunting task.

Although, if you learn the logic behind wine pairing, you can be equipped with the perfect tools for a BBQ wine pairing. You can also dazzle some friends with your knowledge of why which wines will work with which dishes!

So, rather than list every type of conceivable BBQ dish, we’ll take you through some easy to follow rules, that can help you pick the perfect BBQ wine pairing for the occasion.

There are four components of any dish, in particular, that you need to be aware of with a BBQ wine pairing. Indeed, they are four components that any chef or home-cook worth their salt, (apologies for the pun), will want to have a good understanding of. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these are things to consider when you’re looking for that perfect BBQ wine pairing.

Salt

Salt is the backbone of all food and flavour. It simply enhances anything and likely has a place in almost every dish you eat. Try a spoonful of plain rice, then try it after a pinch of salt. The difference is astounding. Fail to salt the pasta water? Then, the pasta will be lacking in flavour.

Unsurprisingly, salt has a big impact on how we perceive wine. It enhances flavours, as it would with food. It can highlight fruitier notes, soften tannins and make wine seem less acidic. So, if a Salted Beef Brisket is on the cards look for a high acidity and high tannin wine. A great BBQ wine pairing here would likely be Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo or Syrah.

Fat

Fatty foods are delicious, (but you didn’t need me to tell you that right?). Fatty foods doesn’t have to mean particularly fatty meats like lamb either. It also means cheese, fried foods, as well as rich creamy, buttery dishes.

When pairing wine with fatty foods, acidity is the name of the game. Acidity cuts through fatty, oily foods in a wonderful way. It also has the ability to somewhat cleanse the palate of the often decadent flavours left behind by fatty food.

If you don’t believe tuck into fried chicken when you have a bottle of Champagne, you won’t regret it!

Acidity

Acidity is a term that will frequently be used when describing wine. So, it should be something you’re aware of when preparing a BBQ wine pairing. When pairing wine with food, acidity is about balance. Wine that is very acidic, such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, can be beautifully complimented by acidic food. The acidity helps to elevate the fruity side of the wine.

However, if you’re choosing a wine that is low in acid, beware of acidity for your BBQ wine pairing. Grenache, Malbec and Gewurztraminer are all wines on the lower end of acidity levels. So, beware of these pairings if you’re going big on vinegar or citrus fruits in a dressing or marinade. The acidic food can make the wine appear unduly bitter by comparison.

Heat

This is certainly not a component that should be overlooked, when preparing your BBQ wine pairing. Everyone perceives spice differently. An enjoyable curry to someone is an intense physical pain to another. So, whether you love Butter Chicken or you’re a heat-seeking missile for Vindaloo, this tip applies to you.

If you’re planning on putting some spicy chicken wings on the grill, then be aware that the wine you’re drinking can affect your perception of that spice. The intensity of the heat and burning sensation that accompanies spicy food can be increased by the alcohol content in the wine you’re drinking.

So, if you enjoy a bit of heat, but don’t want that effect to be ramped up, stay away from the high alcohol content wines. This can roughly be the 14% A.B.V, (alcohol by volume), and above wines. Equally, if you’re a chilli enthusiast and want to intensify the spice, then seek out wines of this ABV.


These are some easy to follow rules when thinking about your BBQ wine pairing. However, never pick a wine which isn’t to your own personal taste. Flavours, tasting notes and our perception of them vary greatly. If you know what you like, then have it! If you’re looking to sample something different, or really want to find that perfect BBQ wine pairing, then the rules above can keep you on the right track.

Recommended Recipes

Obviously, the hints and tips are all well and good, but we couldn’t leave you without a few recommendations of dishes which will likely be gracing our BBQ, alongside a BBQ wine pairing for each one.

Grilled Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are my favourite part of the chicken. Darker meat and crispy skin. They’re hard to beat. The versatility of a chicken thigh can also make them a great BBQ dish. Whether you like boneless, or bone-in thighs, both are simple and delicious. Through buying a big pack, you can split them up into different marinades and seasoning. So, if you’re keen to try a smörgåsbord of flavours, or want to make sure everyone has their favourite – this is a great way to do so.

BBQ Wine Pairing Chicken Thighs
BBQ Wine Pairing – Grilled Chicken Thighs
(Image Courtesy of: https://www.foodandwine.com/)

One great recipe, is for ‘Honey-Butter Grilled Chicken Thighs with Parsley Sauce‘. Already, you can be picking out the key components of the dish here and be thinking about the best BBQ wine pairing. The marinade will clearly be very rich and fatty, therefore high acidity in wine will be desirable. You also don’t want an overly powerful wine to drown out the chicken. Finally, look to the herbaceous elements in the parsley sauce.

All this makes me think of Sauvignon Blanc. In particular, Hollick’s The Bard – Sauvignon Blanc ’19. Citric and fresh, with slightly mineral and herbaceous notes make it ideal for this dish. Indeed, it’ll like make an excellent pairing for a number of other marinades for chicken thighs as well. An easy-drinking crowd pleaser on a hot day, for sure!

Halloumi burgers

I ate a lot of halloumi when it seemed to become a very trendy thing not too long ago. So much so, that I stayed away from it for quite a while. However, recent times have found me reaching for that squeaky cheese yet again. Without a doubt, as the weather begins to brighten and grills begin to light, this will only happen more frequently.

BBQ Wine Pairing Halloumi Burgers
BBQ Wine Pairing – Halloumi Burgers
(Image Courtesy of: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/)

A brioche bun, grilled halloumi, portobello mushrooms and a big dollop of hummus can make a lot of problems seem much smaller. This recipe is sure to delight on a sunny day. Again, we can walk through the components of the dish and see what wine fits well.

Here, fat is the name of the game. Brioche is very rich, then the halloumi and hummus will only further contribute to the fat content. This means a wine which is high in acid will be the ideal BBQ wine pairing. There is also the earthy element to the mushrooms, which can’t be overlooked.

This leaves a Pinot Noir as a great option. The acid cuts through the fatty elements, while the subtle earthy tendencies of a Pinot Noir will really work well with a chunky Portobello mushroom. Our pick is Weingut Feth’s Pinot Noir, (or Spätburgunder as it’s known in Germany).


There you have it, some pro tips for a BBQ wine pairing, as well as a few recommendations from us. Seize that next sunny weekend and get BBQ-ing!

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