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Decanter Best

Great wines to drink at a barbecue

From juicy Zinfandel with burgers to rosé Champagne with salmon and Chardonnay with your BBQ chicken, here is some inspiration on the styles to choose if you're lucky enough to have sunshine and outdoor space this weekend.

BBQ wine suggestions at a glance:

Here are some wine pairings for classic barbecue dishes. For ease of use, we’ve overlooked the uses of marinades and sauces.

  • SteakMalbec, Syrah/Shiraz
  • Burgers – Zinfandel, Grenache blends (like Côtes du Rhône), Cabernet Sauvignon
  • SausagesTempranillo, Gamay, Pinot Noir
  • BBQ chicken – Warmer climate Chardonnay
  • Pork chops – Valpolicella, Barbera, Riesling, dry rosé
  • Salmon – Rosé Champagne, Pinot Gris, Chilled Pinot Noir
  • Sardines – Albariño, Picpoul de Pinet
  • HalloumiSauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Assyrtiko
  • Veggie Skewers –  Chenin Blanc (fresher styles), dry rosé, Gamay

There are few things better than a barbecue in the sunshine with a glass of wine, even if the current situation means that you can only have your immediate household present.

Choosing good bbq wine can really elevate the occasion, but we’ve all had bad experiences, too.

Forget those days of washing down a burnt burger with warm Chardonnay or ‘cooked’ red served in a plastic cup, because you have a lot of wine options to suit different tastes and foods.

As ever, think about the flavours in the food. If you’re going big on the spice, then you could lean towards juicier reds or whites with a touch of sweetness, such as off-dry Riesling, for example.

Pinot Gris from Alsace, for example, might work better if your salmon has Southeast Asia-inspired flavours, while sausages with lots of herbs, such as fennel or sage, could be fun with a Langhe Nebbiolo.

All-rounder BBQ wines

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’re going to purchase 10 types of wine and impose strict pairing regulations on  the occasion.

There are some good all-rounder wines that tick many of the boxes needed for a great barbecue.

These include:

  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay
  • Dry Rosé
  • Riesling
  • Champagne and other traditional method sparkling wines

Top tips for serving

If it’s above 20°C, 68°F, outside then it’s perfectly acceptable to chill your red wines. Even the most powerful red wines are best at ‘room temperature’, which is no more than 18°C, or around 65°F.

Also, and this almost goes without saying these days, but avoid plastic cups if possible.

First published in August 2016. Most recently updated in May 2020.

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