When hosting a summer BBQ, too many people make the mistake of assuming that these events call for beer rather than wine. Often, that’s because they’re unsure of which wine pairings for BBQ offer the most flavour.

If you’re planning a barbecue this summer, explore some options for wine pairings, in addition to other beverages like beer and soda. There are some great barbecue-friendly wines available.

To avoid overpowering the subtle flavours of the wine with smoky barbecue and rich meat, it’s integral to find a pairing that offers complimentary, rather than competing flavours.

Choosing The Best Wine For Your Summer BBQ

When choosing the best wine for your summer BBQ, you’ll need to determine the menu first. There are some well-rounded wines that offer plenty of pairing possibilities, but knowing what you plan on serving allows you to make more specific pairings.

Although a crisp summer white is always appealing, there are plenty of red wines that complement barbecue well. 

If you select a red wine, and it’s hot outside, make sure to chill the bottle briefly before serving. Most people don’t chill red wine when drinking it inside, but the ideal serving temperature is between 55-65°F, or around 15°C. If it’s too hot outdoors, a warm red won’t appeal.

Pairing Considerations To Keep In Mind

From the meat, to the preparation, to the flavours and sauces added, there are lots of elements to keep in mind when pairing wine for a barbecue. The best pairings create a balance between all the flavours in both the wine and the food.

Type of Meat

The meat components in a barbecue are most often beef, pork, chicken, or fish. Typical pairing wisdom suggests that darker meat, like hamburgers, steak, or pork ribs, goes best with red wines, while chicken wings, seafood, and fish goes with white wine.

Ideally, you should match the intensity of the wine to the meat. Although a hamburger is made of beef, it doesn’t offer as much intense flavouring as a tenderloin or tomahawk steak and can be paired with much lighter-bodied wines.

Flavour of Sauce

Another element of the food to keep in mind for barbecue wine pairings is the sauce. Whether you’re using an herb-forward rub or a marinade that relies primarily on citrus, it will affect the overall flavour of the dish.

Best 5 Summer BBQ Wine Pairings

Most people assume that the smoky flavors in barbecue will be complemented by a strong, oaky red. Although this pairing might appeal to some, try to find complementary flavors rather than competing flavors.

Here are some wines that pair well with a variety of barbecue dishes.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied red wine that is prized for its savoury, fruit-forward taste. It’s one of the most popular wines in the world, and pairs extremely well with the smokiness of barbecue. It offers plenty of complementing flavours without overpowering the food. If you’re serving a lighter dish like grilled calamari, or chicken, look for a lighter-bodied Pinot Noir.


Another wine that pairs well with a summer BBQ is Syrah– a jammy, earthy red wine. It has one of the highest recommended serving temperatures of any red wine, which makes it ideal for summer sipping. If you’re serving any peppery, smoky beef, this is a great pairing choice.


If you’re serving chicken or any type of fish, Chardonnay is a great bet. Since it’s made all over the world and reflects terroir so well, its taste and aroma can be difficult to classify. It doesn’t contain any overwhelmingly rich flavours- instead, it sits lightly on the palate and offers a refreshing complement to any dish. If you’re having fish or any lightly sauced dish, reach for a younger, unoaked Chardonnay and save the aged bottles for a heavier dish.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is a rich, spicy white wine. It offers a great balance of acidity and sweetness that complements lighter yet substantial dishes of grilled fish, shellfish, or even a spiced Italian, Toulouse, or Bratwurst sausage. If this type of wine originates in Italy, it’s known as Pinot Grigio.

Dry Rosé

Nothing says summer like a cool glass of rosé wine. When picking the right rosé for your barbecue, look for a dry rosé that doesn’t overpower the food with sweetness. This type of wine pairs extremely well with salads, seafood, and even lamb. 

Master the Wine Pairings for Your Next Summer BBQ 

Now that you’ve explored the best wine pairings for BBQ dishes, you can confidently pick out bottles that complement your favorite foods. Even if you’re making a feast out of simple hotdogs and hamburgers, there’s always a wine pairing that can bring out unique flavours in your dishes. 
Small Winemakers offers unique bottles from small and family-owned wineries around the world. If you’re looking to try something new, check out some of our acclaimed vintages, then have them delivered right to your front door.

2 thoughts on “The 5 Best Wine Pairings For A BBQ”

    • Definitely! At a BBQ, you need to be mindful about how sweet the spare rib sauce is. If it is too sweet it will clash with many wines, including big reds normally thought of as BBQ wines. This is because in general a wine should be at least as sweet as whatever you are serving with it or the wine will taste sour. A rose, even one with a little bit of residual sugar, may go better than a traditional BBQ red. And if there is spice to your BBQ sauce the tannins in a red wine will be accentuated and make the wine seem overly bitter. So, if your sauce is sweet, a sweeter wine, including n off-dry or medium rose would be great. And if the sauce is spicy, a fruity rose will be better than a red with lots of tannnin. Enjoy!


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