Best wines for the barbecue

If you’d like to raise a toast at your next barbecue, experts say that pairing wine with grilled foods can be as simple (or varied) as the meal itself.

As with other cooking methods, pairing wine with grilled foods essentially comes down to a basic question: How hearty is the food and what is the dominant flavour? The idea is to match the flavour of the food with the intensity of the wine so that one doesn’t overwhelm the other.

Lighter foods such as white-fleshed fish, chicken or vegetables often work better with a lighter, more delicate wine, whereas hearty fare such as steaks, sausages and burgers can be paired with a more full-bodied wine.

As we know, grilled foods are typically seasoned with any number of marinades, rubs and sauces. For some foods such as steak and lamb, the dominant flavour will usually be the meat itself, no matter how it’s seasoned. For other dishes — such as chicken breasts slathered in a smoky barbecue sauce — the dominant flavour is characterized by the sauce, which in this case means you’ll probably want to go with a more robust wine (such as big Zinfandel).

Another rule of thumb for balancing out the food and wine equation: For spicy foods go with a sweeter wine (such as Pinot Noir), and for sweet food, choose something more tart, such as Chardonnay. Planning to attend a barbecue, but not sure what’s on the menu? A safe bet, say experts, would be to bring a Zinfandel for a red or a Chardonnay for a white.

Finally, the most important of the so-called ‘rules’: Drink a wine that you like! These days more wine-pairing experts agree that all other rules can, and should, be overridden by this one. The best match, after all, is the one that pleases your palate.

Top 10 well-done wine and barbecue pairings

Looking for wine-pairing suggestions for the next time you fire up the grill? We checked with wine expert Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine website for her top wine-pairings for the foods we love to barbecue.

1. Juicy Steak and Shiraz

2. Grilled Salmon and Pinot Noir

3. Seared Tuna and Gamay

4. Flame-Broiled Hamburgers and Zinfandel

5. Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Rosé

6. Herbed Chicken and Syrah

7. Lobster in Butter and Sparkling Wine

8. Grilled Veggies and Sauvignon Blanc

9. BBQ Pork Chops and Chardonnay

10. Roasted Marshmallows and Tawny Port

(Could you use your own personal sommelier next time you’re in the wine store? There’s an app for that! Get the details here.)

Additional sources:;; UPI

What’s your favourite wine and barbecue pairing? Let us know in the comments!

Photo © BlueOrange Studio

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