Break up with beer this summer and offer wine at your next barbecue. Wine comes in so many styles it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but for barbecue you can really play around with options – sparkling wine, rose, riesling, merlot, cabernet, tempranillo, and even a refined French dessert wine.
Courtney Weiland, director of private clients at Thatcher’s Wine, a wine importer and consultancy, likes to think of wine as “fitting the purpose that beer serves when enjoying barbecue. It needs to b refreshing, pair well with food, a great afternoon sipper, crowd-pleasing and delicious.”
Rosé is an obvious choice, according to Weiland, but she looks for expressions with a bit more color and texture. “You want something that is perfect for sipping on arrival at a BBQ or paired alongside your BBQ chicken and ribs.” But reds are not off the table says Weiland, “I still enjoy the deeper reds, especially when they have lift and aromas and notes that are reminiscent of what’s coming off the grill.”
2021 Emrich-Schonleber, Riesling Mineral trocken, Nahe: Weiland loves this varietal because it’s “typically a bit lower in alcohol and always delivers mouth-watering acidity. It is one of my favorite go-to whites. Luckily for us, one of the top winemakers is creating a dry/trocken style riesling at a BBQ wine price.”
Château d’Yquem, 2020: Yes, this is one of the world’s most iconic sweet wines and enjoys a long history of being paired with foie gras, but it sings next to a spicy barbecue sauce slathered over anything – or hit it with some fried chicken. The fatty nature of some meats is a marvelous complement to the juicy acidity, succulent purity and honeyed sweet notes in a sip of Yquem.
Ultimate Provence UP, Côtes de Provence, 2022: a blend of syrah, grenache noir, cinsault and rolle that brings juicy fresh cut strawberry notes to the palate along with a hint of orange peel and white flowers. The juicy refreshing texture make this a wine a lovely antidote to a spicy barbecue sauce acting as a bit of a palate cleanser between each rich bite. Also make Chateau de Berne, Provence, organic grapes cultivated from an ancient site once built by the Romans.
Symphonie Maison Sainte Marguerite, Côtes de Provence, 2022: A juicy blend of cinsault, grenache and a bit of vermentino. The faintest pink in color is balanced with a palate that delivers on notes of strawberry, lime zest and white flowers. The minerally backbone to this wine makes it ideal for a sweet sloppy barbecue sauce over a platter of ribs.
Vina Ardanza, Reserva, Rioja, 2016: From Rioja’s La Rioja Alta region, a succulent red wine of red-black fruits, tobacco and balsamic spice notes that finishes with polished tannins and a lip-smacking savory quality. It’s a blend of tempranillo and garnacha.
Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz, 2020: This ripe and concentrated wine brims with notes of black cherry, plum and spice. Crafted from several vineyard plots across several regions, it is an expressive wine the bursts with flavor—a great team player for spicy rack of ribs, a char-grilled sirloin in savory sauce.
Terra Madre Plavac Mali, Komarna, 2016: An award-winning wine from Croatia (which should not be at all surprising given the fact that the hillsides and terroir of Croatia face the nation of Italy, sharing the same sunlight and ocean influences that make Italian wines so compelling.) This one, a Decanter World Wine Awards Silver medalist, shows depth and concentration, black-red fruits, and warm spice. It’s silky on the palate – a nice option with kebabs, or grilled lamb chops.
J. Lohr Signature, 2019: Crafted from fruit grown in a high-elevation vineyard in Paso Robles, this bold expressive red (98% cabernet sauvignon) wine is aged for 20 months in French oak. It has nicely polished tannins, a succulent mouthfeel and a bit of Old World earthiness. Try it with ribs lathered in a smoky sauce.
San Felice Bell’Aja Bolgheri DOC 2019: A blend of merlot and cabernet Sauvignon from Italy’s Bolgheri region, this red is richly structured, bold and concentrated—perfect for a serious steak in a serious sauce. Sustainability is a core tenet of the winemaking here – they have a wood-chip heating system used to heat the various rooms – and recycle the water used by the winery.
Can Blau Red Blend, 2019: A plush blend of garnacha, carignan, and syrah grown in 25-to-40-year-old vineyards in various soils and elevations of Spain’s Montsant appellation. The complex aromas of blue-black fruits and dense, concentrated palate make it an ideal choice for barbecue.