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5 Tips and Tricks for Pairing Wine with BBQ

Kari Jensen75 views
Fritz Underground Winery-Blog

Trend alert! Wine is reigning in as the new beverage of BBQ.

Holy smokin’ charcoal! Summer is fast approaching and what better way to kick it off than with America’s favorite pastime, no not baseball, barbecuing! There’s nothing like firing up the grill, taking in all those mouthwatering aromas, and grabbing a cold one with good company. Well, how about turning it up a notch, from collegiate to classy, a well paired-wine can be just the thing. A bone-dry Rosé, a zesty Zinfandel, or a crisp Chardonnay, pairing food and wine is all about matching the flavor of intensity and complimenting the meal at hand.  

So how do you pair wine with BBQ? A question with a dozen different answers, here are 5 tips and tricks to help guide you in your BBQ and wine pairing adventures.


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This doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you start with wines that interest you. If you are new to the world of wine, rest assured there are thousands of guides written by the experts; but more often than not people end up choking down a wine they don’t like just to adhere to the “rules”. The truth of the matter is, there is no better time to experiment than at a BBQ. The ambiance is casual, and whether you’re flipping burgers or searing veggies, everyone loves popping bottles. If the first wine is a bust, just pop open the next. Now is the time to let your cares slip away and let the BBQ sauce and wine pour freely. (Note: BBQ flavors can be overwhelming, so no need for top shelf wines!)

2. Reds go better with BBQ than whites, is a MYTH.

Fritz Underground Winery-BlogConsider the body of the wine in which you are pairing with food. A light, fruity 2015 Fritz Sauvignon Blanc may not hold up against a heavy smoked brisket, but would be excellent with grilled oysters. On the other side of the scale, a 2013 Fritz Estate Reserve Cabernet with notes of dark cherry and cracked pepper would complement a nice thick grilled steak perfectly. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is, the bolder and smokier you go food wise, the more you should lean towards a red wine varietal.

When in doubt or completely lost, go for a Zinfandel for a red or a Chardonnay for a white. The two styles typically work well for most barbecue occasions.

Suggestions from Fritz Underground Winery:

Fritz 2014 Estate Zinfandel

2014 Russian River Chardonnay

Experience a taste of Fritz– (no appointment needed for groups of 6 or less)

Fritz Underground Winery

3. Chill your wine.

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There is a reason beer has been the king of BBQ since it’s cold and refreshing on those sweltering summer days. Tip: Chill your wine ( including red wine)! At some point, you’ve probably got it in your head that only bubbly and whites are chilled and only reds are served at room temperature. While that’s a good rule in general, it’s not the end all and be all. Slightly chilled red wines with a higher tannin content can actually make the wine taste less complex and therefore it becomes the perfect drink for sipping poolside or at BBQ with your friends. So chill out and try something new!

4. Record your findings.

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Find out what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps that oaked Chardonnay overpowered the delicacy of the lightly buttered fish, or the riesling wasn’t sweet enough to combat the flames of that chorizo. Whatever the outcome, keeping track of the wines you try will make shopping for the next occasion a lot easier.   

5. Don’t follow too many rules.

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By this point, you are either overwhelmed OR ready to put on your party hat. Either way, remember you are the best judge for your table. With more than a few wines out there and enough BBQ recipes to go along, you are certain to find the perfect pairing. Feel free to experiment with flavors, aromas, and temperatures – the results just might make your cookout unforgettable. Last but not least, rules are meant to be broken.

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Kari Jensen

A young professional in the digital marketing field, passionate about all things wine, beer, and travel. I enjoy the adventure in discovering the unique stories & trends within California’s life & style. Having a knack for creativity, the challenge persists to keep writing, designing, capturing, and creating. Cheers!

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