Red Wine and BBQ Pairings

Tangy and sweet sauces, spiced sausages, charred vegetables, cold and creamy potato salads, the traditional American barbecue menu is full of opportunities for wine pairings. This summer, explore some of these barbecue and red wine pairings and see how well the herbs, spices, sauces, and umami and fats of grilled foods work with so many bold red wines.

Grilled vegetables

Sweet grilled peppers, charred zucchini, corn on the cob, grilled onions: everything in the produce aisle looks better with grill marks. When pairing grilled vegetables, keep in mind two factors: the char of the vegetables, and the heightened sweetness that comes from grilling caramelization. Enjoy with silky wines that will complement–rather than overpower–the flavors of the seasonal produce while also holding up to the smoky, charred flavors from the grill.

We suggest: 2015 Empreintes Rouge

Grilled chicken

Pairings with grilled chicken will depend upon the spices, rubs, or sauces used to flavor the meat. For lemon or citrus-based flavors, pair with white wine; for most rubs and herbs, consider a softer yet bold wine, like Grenache or Merlot.

We suggest: 2015 Empreintes Rouge

Hamburgers and cheeseburgers

For hamburgers and cheeseburgers, aim to pair not only with the red meat and the smoke of the grill, but also with the flavor of cheeses and toppings. Select a wine that is bold but will pair nicely with several cheeses (like sharp cheddar and blue) and toppings such as caramelized onions. Of course, it goes without saying that the wine should also go well with bacon: who can say no to a bacon burger?

We suggest: 2014 Vieux Chateau Guibeau


As with chicken, pairing red wine with pork depends upon the spices or rubs that are used. As a general guideline, select a robust wine like Sangiovese: the cherry and black fruits accompany savory and spicy rubs, while the tannins hold up to the flavors of the grill.

We suggest: 2011 “Stiglianese” Agricola Fontanelle (pork is one of their products: we trust their pairings!)


Sausages that have more herbs and spices like fennel, red pepper, or sage work well with bold red wines. Try not to overpower the sausages that are more subtly herbed; for those meats, we recommend wines more geared towards tobacco and earth notes. When pairing sausages that are heavy on spice, try a sweeter and more fruit-forward red, like a Zinfandel or Syrah.

We suggest: 2014 Foggy Canyon Syrah


Steak and red wine is a classic pairing, but something magical happens when it is grilled and enjoyed outdoors. Choose a red worthy of the meats you’ve chosen, yet one that’s unassuming enough to be enjoyed in a barbecue setting.

We suggest: 2012 “Coste Di Rose” Bric Cenciurio Barolo, 2013 Nettuno Super Tuscan


Yes, you can pair red wine with fish (when the fish is a fatty salmon and the wine is a soft Pinot Noir, that is)! The cherry and spice notes of Pinot Noir work well with the flavors of grilled salmon. Pinot pairs well with thyme and caramelized shallots as well: consider these flavors for a side salad or a vinaigrette.

We suggest: 2015 Bellflower “Wanderlust” Pinot Noir, 2016 “Pinoli Cole” Pinot Noir

Spicier BBQ sauces

When pairing ribs, beef, or chicken coated in a spicy barbecue sauce, choose a wine with more fruit and sweet notes. Syrah classically goes well with spiced dishes, so it’s the perfect BBQ sauce pairing.

We suggest: 2014 Foggy Canyon Syrah

Sweeter BBQ sauces

A sweeter-style barbecue sauce needs wine with less sweetness, more spice and tannin, and balanced acidity. Try a Petite Sirah or Malbec: both are bold and full-bodied, yet complement the heat from sauces that have a kick.

We suggest: 2015 “Wild Rover” Petite Sirah (this wine goes well with both sweet and spicy BBQ sauces)

Do you need some more wines to sip on this summer? Contact Quigley Fine Wines to learn about our selection of wines from around the world.