Look To The Sauce When Pairing Wine With Barbecue

With barbecue we accept that there's a whole world of cooking styles and sauces out there, and yet when it comes to the drinks we swig alongside our barbecue, most people stick to beer or whiskey. That's a shame, because anyone who has sipped a glass of Pinot Grigio or a light Grenache knows that wine is an incredibly satisfying summer drink, and one that has enough styles itself to pair with a near infinite variety of food. The one issue barbecue has with wine is that it presents a huge range of very powerful flavors all at once, making pairing a little more complicated than a piece of fish or simple steak. That's why the key to pairing wines with barbecue is keeping your focus on the sauce.

Barbecue recipes cover a wide spectrum of flavor, from thin and tangy North Carolina mop sauce to smoky and sweet Kansas City-style sauce, and it generally dominates the taste of your barbecue. Despite the variety of meat, it's pretty much a given that whatever you cook up is going to be rich and fatty, so the sauce needs to make the big difference in the flavor profile. Since barbecue sauces have such strong flavors they don't need an extra help from wine, so you want to serve wines that will balance the taste of the meal. That means finding dry wines that can cut against fatty, savory flavors, or sweeter wines that complement salty or spicy sauces.

There are lots of great wine options that work with barbecue sauce

If you want to start pairing wines with barbecue as simply as possible, go with a dry red. Its tannins are a perfect balancing factor to the rich taste of pork and beef and the sauces that go with them. For a sweet and smoky sauce, a particularly dry red with a decent acidity like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah is a great starting point. For tangier or vinegary sauces like the different varieties of Carolina barbecue, it can help to get a more fruit-forward red that still has medium tannins and acidity. Pinot Noir is a versatile wine that can fit in here, as is Zinfandel. Those flavor profiles will work with a dry rub, too, especially on ribs.

Dry rubs are also where you'll experience good results with white wine. Sweeter, refreshing white wines like Riesling and Pinot Grigio will be great, as will medium-dry options like Sauvignon Blanc. White wines in this category are great for any barbecue sauce with more spice to it, especially if the wine is not too sweet. As a special treat you can even break open some dry, bubbly white wine. It will work with the heavier sweet and smoky sauces just as well as a beer does. There are so many options with wine that you are bound to find a perfect match for any barbecue sauce, and you'll certainly enjoy the testing along the way.