The Trick to Pairing Your Wine With Grilled Food

Guest Posting | January 2, 2022

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Pairing wine with grilled food can be a trick. Here are the basics about how to choose wine based on what you are throwing on the barbecue. After discussing the main dish, we’ll look at how sauces can affect the wine choice.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Beef

Beef is usually best paired with a good Cabernet Sauvignon. This traditional red wine has a strong finish that lingers, helping it stand up to the fatty flavours in beef. You’ll find it is excellent alongside hamburgers fresh off the grill. Steaks will pair well with a Cabernet, whether you want it rare, well done, or somewhere in the middle.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Pork

Just as pineapple goes well with ham, so, too, will a jammy wine go well with pork. A red wine such as Shiraz or Syrah is often a good choice here. The fruity flavours of the wine will match up well with pork that has been grilled or smoked. It should be able to handle the job regardless of the chosen sauce.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Chicken

Chicken is less fatty and often doesn’t go well with a strong red wine. A Rose is sweeter and still strong enough to balance the stronger flavour of grilled chicken.  If the sauce is overly sweet and abundant, the Rose will be able to compete.  If you prefer a red wine, a Merlot may be the answer. It is often lower in tannins than a Cabernet and can pair with the chicken without overpowering it.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Ribs

Whether beef, pork or lamb ribs, the taste will reflect the fat of the meat. That makes grilled ribs a good fit for Cabernet Sauvignon.  Another choice is a red Zinfandel due to its slightly spicy tendencies.  It provides contrast with the meat without taking over your taste buds.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Fish

Fish tends to grow more flavourful on the grill.  Yet it still wouldn’t stand up to a red wine.  Grilled seafood and fish will probably pair best with Chardonnay. A grilled Salmon may be just right for a Pinot Noir due to the fish’s higher fat content. Likewise, a grilled Tuna will have a strong enough taste that a Merlot may be the answer.

Pairing Wine with Grilled Veggies

There are so many veggies that taste better when grilled.  The process tends to bring out a meatier texture and a stronger flavor.  This would indicate that a red wine could match up well rather than a lighter white choice.  Mushrooms are especially good when paired with an earthy red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir.

Pairing Wine with Savory, Sweet or Spicy Sauces

Your choice of sauce may change what you want in your wine.  A savory sauce usually pairs well with an earthy wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon. However, a smokey sauce will call for a fruity choice such as a Syrah or Zinfandel.  A sweet or spicy sauce tends to do well with a Riesling. This slightly sweet white wine is often the choice for truly spicy foods, and it has enough character to pair well with a sweet barbeque sauce.  Just to cover all of the possibilities, a cheesy or creamy sauce is likely to shift you back to a high acid, high tannin wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.


Whether you are a foodie, a gourmet, or just love food, it’s fun to discover what happens when your food brings about the best in your wine and vice versa.

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