Summer is around the corner, and BBQ season is about to be in full swing. Picking a wine that works on multiple levels can be tricky. We're here to help.
Sauce is Boss
The type of meat on the grill is important, but BBQ sauces tend to be bold, which means the wine must be up to the task of highlighting or counterbalancing the big time flavor. A California Zinfandel or Australian Grenache would be a great choice to highlight the pronounced sweetness and spiciness of St. Louis BBQ. For something more understated in its flavor profile such as lamb chops with a rosemary rub and tangy yogurt, a slightly herbal Carignan would be excellent.
Trim the Fat
Depending on the cut of meat, you actually may want to leave it on to help keep the meat flavorful and juicy. However, cutting through this fat with a wine with pronounced tannin or acidity. Tannin causes the bitter sensation from red wine on your front teeth and top of your tongue. Cabernet Sauvignon, naturally high in tannin, can be a great option with a rich, juicy ribeye. Acidity causes the mouth-watering sensation that gets you ready for your next bite. This makes Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France a great choice with grilled chicken thighs.
Body by BBQ
Lastly, think about the body of the wine and the body of the meat and try to match them up. This may sound a little abstract, but is one of the simple and most consistent ways of coming up with a great pairing. The body of a wine is felt in how heavily it coats your mouth and weighs your tongue down after taking a sip. I like to think of the body of a piece of meat as its density, both in terms of weight and flavor intensity. Duck has a moderately intense, slightly gamey flavor and isn’t too heavy either. A medium-bodied Spanish wine such as Tempranillo is always a great choice!