Kansas City is where I currently call home. Kansas City is also home to some of the best barbecue in the nation, winning awards and notoriety across the US. Restaurants like Oklahoma Joe’s and Jack’s Stack BBQ are well known and always packed with guests. Typically, if someone is going to have Kansas City BBQ they drink an ice cold beer with the meal. I am not a fan of most beers, preferring wine over beer any day. Grilling and barbecuing food adds a distinct flavor to many dishes that the flavor, body and intensity of wines can easily compliment and should not be overlooked.
The same rules apply when selecting a wine for grilling as they would with traditionally prepared meals. Fuller, robust wines do well paired with heavier meats and sauces, while the lighter wines should be paired with simpler dishes such as grilled vegetables and seafood. Complementing the taste of the barbecue is the goal, and many wines lend themselves especially well to certain barbecue flavors.
Rich Saucy Barbecue
Slow cooked meats laden with thick barbecue sauces create a rich smoky flavor that pairs well with wines that have a major fruit presence. Beaujolais has an intense fruit note, as well as a nice Syrah. A robust red zinfandel is another alternative. Any of these wines would work very well with grilled beef. For pork or ribs, try a Grenache. Saucy rich barbecue can also have a sweet flavor, and if that is the case, try a semi sweet Rose to compliment the meal.
White wine always works with seafood, regardless of the fact it’s cooked on a grill. Chardonnay or a Sauvignon blanc are a good standard choices. For something a little different, look for Seyval blanc, or a Traminette. Traminette’s have a citrusy taste that is perfect for drinking with seafood barbecue in the summer. These are also good to serve with grilled vegetables and salads, cold shrimp cocktails and crab cakes.
Dark berried, full bodied wines are the choice to pair with your next porterhouse, brisket or ribeye. When meat is charred, the tannins in the wine become a perfect match. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and even the heavy French Bordeaux are excellent choices for pairing with beef. Try a red Rhone, really any Rhones from that area of France will work, with a slow cooked brisket, a bit of fresh bread and grilled veggies for a perfect meal.
The myriad of flavors created in food when it is grilled is endless. From plain grilled chicken, to a messy thick barbecued plate of ribs, there is a wine to pair with it that will enhance the flavor of the food and the enjoyment of the meal. The bottom line is that a person has to like the wine, regardless of whether or not it goes well with the grilled food. My suggestion is to match the body and intensity of the wine to the meat or vegetables, try one or two different wines with the food, and stick with the one you like the best. You can’t go wrong with good barbecue and good wine.