How To Pair Wine And Beer With BBQs: A Simple Guide

You’ve got the meats, rubs, and marinades all sorted, and now you need the drinks to go with your barbecue.

Beer is always a classic pairing, but sometimes wine can work even better with the heavier flavors.

How To Pair Wine And Beer With BBQs

To pair wine and beer with barbecue, approach it the way you would any other food and drink pairing.

Think about the complementary flavors, and don’t forget to consider texture and body.

Depending on what you’re serving, the right beverage could be anything from a powerful Zinfandel to a citrus IPA.

Learn how to pair wine and beer with barbecues using our simple guide.

Brisket

Brisket is a juicy and tender cut from the chest of the cow that benefits best from a long and slow cooking process.

The end texture should melt in your mouth, so you need a wine that can balance the heaviness. But barbecued correctly, expect a brisket to have a smokey fragrance.

Pinot Noir is an excellent pairing, with enough body to match the meat, and a balance of earth and floral flavors.

For beer, you again want weight and richness. Try a stout. The creamy texture will perfectly complement the brisket, while chocolate undertones are an ideal match for meaty beef.

Burgers

burger and beer

Like brisket, a beef burger needs a red wine that can handle the body of red meat.

We prefer something a little dry with a burger, to better balance all the other flavors coming through from the toppings.

Tempranillo is an excellent pairing, as is a New World Cabernet Sauvignon.

When choosing a beer, again, we like to balance the big flavors already present. Choose an IPA with notes of citrus, to add bitterness and tang to the already salty burger.

For a slightly easier pairing, try a Pale Lager. It’s lightly refreshing, and won’t fight with the burger flavors.

Chicken

Chicken is a barbecue classic because it’s an exceptional base for many flavors. While this is great for your barbecue, it does make it harder to choose your wine pairings.

If you’re keeping things simple, and letting the grill add the flavor rather than a marinade, look for an oaky white such as Chardonnay, or a new oak aged red like Pinot Noir.

Bold flavors are also better in beer pairings. Try Amber-Brown lagers.

For a spicy rub, try a sweet Riesling, or a Gewürztraminer. These are also good choices for sweeter marinades. An American IPA balances the heat of the rub, contrasting the sauce.

Traditional barbecue flavors are complemented by fruity reds, but with the chicken base, you want to go low on tannins. Try a Zinfandel. For a beer pairing, we like Dark Lagers or Amber Ales.

Pork Ribs

Pork ribs, slathered in barbecue marinade, are one of the biggest flavors on the grill. You need a wine with equal power — like a Zinfandel.

Packed full of tannins and with fruity overtones, it’s the perfect pairing for the punch of pork ribs.

Similarly, when choosing a beer pairing, we recommend Stout. It has a sweetness to match the sauce.

Prefer a dry rub? Try the medium body of a Grenache. It has a lot of tannins to balance the body, but without the fruit bomb of a Zinfandel. A slightly lighter beer works better as well. Try a Hefeweizen.

Steak

steak and wine

When choosing the right steak and beverage pairing for your barbecue, it’s essential to consider the cut you’re using.

A good rule is that the pairings you prefer in the steakhouse tend to be just as good for a barbecue.

For a wine, that means the traditional reds. Cabernet Sauvignon is the obvious choice, but a Malbec or a Syrah can be just as good.

If you’re combining steak with other barbecue meats, such as ribs, stick with a Zinfandel.

An IPA is a good complement to a ribeye, while a Pale Ale will balance a top sirloin, and a Light Lager won’t overpower filet mignon.

Prime rib works well with a sweeter Amber Ale, and hangar is often served with Brown Ale.

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs and sausages are fatty, so you want a crisp white to cut through.

A drier Riesling is good, or a New World Sauvignon Blanc. Keep your wine nice and chilled, and look for tangier flavors if you’re packing on the toppings.

German beers are an obvious choice with hot dogs, and a good one. We like the crisp finish of an Amber Ale, which encourages you to take another bite.

The sweetness of Brown Ale is also excellent with smokey sausages.

Salmon

Salmon is a fantastic choice for a barbecue, taking on rich flavors and a contrasting texture. Salmon is traditionally served with a full-bodied white. An oak-aged Chardonnay is a classic pairing.

For barbecue salmon, rosé wine is perhaps the better choice. Fruit and floral flavors balance the smoke, with a touch more body.

A malty Pale Ale is a good beer choice with salmon, while a Brown Ale adds a sweetness that works with the grill flavors.

For other seafoods, think light to balance the subtle flavors.

Veggie Choices

Veggies are becoming a standard part of the barbecue, but they can be hard to find a drink pairing for. If you’re going for veggie skewers or salty halloumi cheese, go for a crisp white.

A Sauvignon Blanc is hard to beat, while a Gewürztraminer adds some sweetness. Pale Ales are a good beer choice with salty halloumi — we like a Belgian Tripel.

For veggies dishes with a meatier taste – like veggie burgers and mushrooms – go for heavier choices. Pinot Noir works well here.

Final Thoughts

The heavy flavors of sweet and smoky barbecue sauces tend to need big bodied drinks to match.

Break out light reds like Pinot Noir, or complement your red meats with a powerful Zinfandel. For lighter flavors, chilled whites are excellent for summer parties.

It’s hard to go wrong with beer and barbecue. IPAs are amazing with heavier meats, while the sweet undertones of Stout and Amber Ales are excellent with barbecue sauce.

We hope this guide has helped you to take your barbecue to the next level.

Tommy Hall