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Wine Pairing for BBQ

Hi -

I am hosting a semi-formal wedding rehearsal dinner with a BBQ theme - pulled pork, pulled chicken, and several sides. I will be serving a couple of types of beer as well as several non-alcoholic drinks. Several attendees prefer wine over beer. Does anyone have any suggestions on wines that go well with BBQ? I hope to not exceed ~ $10/bottle.

Mr. BT.

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    1. Hm-m, US $ 10 per bottle, eh?

      I have zero recs, as even the lower-end Zinfandels that I pair with BBQ are in the US $ 16 - 18 range.

      Good luck,


      1 Reply
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        If the OP is intent on keeping to around $10 (I don't think even these are under $10) perhaps Rancho Zabaco or Dancing Bull? I'm not recommending them as great wines, but they're not bad with a pulled pork sandwich.

        My favorite bbq wines are red blends like Cotes du Rhone or Cali blends with Zin included. The only Roses I can imagine bold enough to stand up to bbq would be Bandols.

      2. Similar to maria lorraine, my thoughts go to rose. But your guests are probably thinking red. In that case, Bill Hunt is on the right track with zinfandel -- tends to go well with the flavor profile of many sauce components. So if your source can find one in your price range, go that route.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          Thanks for the replies. I was informed by my better half that I was being too stingy with my $10 price range, so if price wasn't an issue, what are everyone's recommendations?

          Mr. BT

          1. re: MrBigTime

            I would just do something like Ravenswood Vintner's Blend or Cline California Zin. But, then again, I'd be drinking beer with my BBQ.

            1. re: Brad Ballinger

              I will also be drinking beer with my BBQ!

            2. re: MrBigTime

              The link I gave above has prices at $15, if that helps.

              1. re: MrBigTime

                OK, and without breaking the bank, maybe try: Peachy Canyon Zin (their Incredible Red is lower price, but is not THAT full-bodied, and for most BBQ, you do need body), the lower-end Rosenblum Zins (there is a cuvée, that is pretty nice, at the lowest end of their portfolio), and even the Ravenswood Vintner's Blend.

                Now, if you could look to the US $25 - 35 Zins, then the world opens up to you, including some Turley's, some Biale's, and a few others. Personally, at the lower-end of that group, I like the Picchetti, but it's rather limited in distribution, out of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Another, though at the upper-end of that spectrum, is Benovia, but again, limited distribution.

                Most of all, enjoy,


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Have you had a low end Rosenblum recently? Since they were bought up, their vintner's cuvee has become merde. Being discounted to around 6 or 7 dollars a bottle. I think stuff like County Fair from TJs is much superior. Or perhaps a Castle Rock bottling.

                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    I have to admit that it HAS been some years. How have the Single Vineyard Rosenblums been affected? I know that I saw a major decline with Ravenswood, and their Single Vineyard offerings, though Joel Peterson was still "at the helm," and their Vintner's Blend (that does not sound correct, so I need to check) stayed about the same.

                    Corporate buyouts can be just fine, or can be horrible. It just depends.

                    Personally, I am a big fan of Turley, Biale and Picchetti, for my Zins.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I figured you hadn't had the vintner's cuvee recently, so as a vinous bottom feeder, I thought I needed to comment. I like Turley Ridge and Dusi, on those rare occasions when I splurge. I used to love the Rosemblum single vinyard stuff (on those rare occasion . . .), but the vintner's cuvee these days, not so much

                      1. re: Ed Dibble

                        As corporations buy out vintners, I find it hard to keep up.

                        Once, Ravenswood held a big spot in my heart, and Joel Peterson was doing some really good things, for the price-point. Then, he sold out, some sources changed, and so did many wines. Stuff happens.

                        Will pick up the Rosenblum Cuvee, to see how that has changed, though it sounds as though I will not be happy.

                        Thank you,


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Let me know if I'm wrong, but my last bottle was well below what used to be available from Rosenblum. Last time I was at a TJs, it was priced very inexpensive, and a local supermarket here is closing it out at discount.

                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                            It HAS been awhile, so things might well have changed. Will see what Rosenblums I have locally, and will post TN's.


            3. Coppola's "Rosso" and "Bianco" blends come to mind. OK with strong flavored food, and a respectable label.... it may even introduce people to Coppola's higher -end offerings.

              They're $10-$12 even here in benighted Pennsylvania.

              1. The Prisoner if money is no object also Rombauer 2009 Zinfandel

                1 Reply
                1. re: phamus

                  Ah, yes. Orin Swift does do some really good wines. The Prisoner (and his Papillion) are big hits.


                2. How about a sangria with a little tart edge added? Could be inexpensive and presented elegantly with a little imagination.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LRunkle

                    Thats interesting, I haven't considered sangria. Could be made pretty easily, and the alcohol infused fruit will be more fun to eat than the fruit salad I'm planning on serving.

                  2. dry rose, beaujolais, and zin do very well with bbq imo.

                    1. K&L has the 2009 Ridge Three Valleys zin for $20, might even find it for a couple of dollars less elsewhere.

                      1. I think Sangria is a great suggestion.

                        Just to put it out there. Some people don't really care about pairing but if you do. Depending on how you do your BBQ a lot of wines are going to taste awful next to it. Wines tend not to drink well against super spicy or super sweet or super vinegary type sauces. With spicy - all you can taste of the wine is the alcohol, with sweet - the wine will taste bitter, flat, or sour, with vinegar - the wine will taste soft/flat/flabby.

                        Your options - try a rose from France - the wine will meld with the food. It may not "stand up to it" but it won't taste bad against it.

                        Try a bold red - Such as a Zin, a Pinot from Santa Barbara/Southern California, etc. and hope it can stand up to the sauce. If it can - awesome. If it can't, the wine may very well taste bad with the food.

                        Try a sweet high acidic white/or a sparkling wine. A riesling is usually low alcohol, with sweet aspects, and high acid -so it can counter the BBQ well. Same with sparkling. But it can be a really weird pairing for people - too light/too white for serious meat - and it may be hard to sell to your guests.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: goldangl95

                          Hi goldangl95,

                          I'll second the suggestion for a Riesling, a German Riesling specifically. I also tasted a Scheurebe recently that held up well against pork belly with a vinegar glaze / ginger chutney.

                          Most likely, the Rose will get drowned by whatever you throw at it; at that point, if you can't really taste the wine...

                          Zin is a classic pairing, but Malbecs are very food-friendly; selecting one with lots of fruit and spice at the end will pair well. Last pick, a Garnatxa from Terra Alta.

                          All of these wines are easily south of $20 / bottle.

                        2. I would do a very chilled Beaujolais for a semi formal BBQ. Ravenswood and Gnarleyhead type Zins already taste pretty inexpensive ("alcoholly, hot") IMO and that will be magnified if you are using BBQ sauce on the pulled pork. Pork and fruit pairings are classic. You could find a nice Beaujolais for the same price and it would taste more "fresh and fruity" next to the BBQ offerings.

                          When I do BBQ, I always have a nice big glass container with a spigot filled with ice water and lemons. Most folks know that wine and BBQ sauce often don't follow one another nicely. My preference is to serve something bright and chilled with BBQ.

                          Whatever you choose, I bet your guests will have fun! It is impossible NOT to have fun at a BBQ!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: sedimental

                            <<Most folks know that wine and BBQ sauce often don't follow one another nicely.>>

                            See, this is where I completely disagree with you, but maybe it's how I do BBQ, and also my sauces. My personal preferences are for Zinfandels, but again, that is personal.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Most BBQ sauces include tomato, vinegar and sugar, none of which show well with dry red wines IMO. I can't imagine why someone would drink a quality Zinfandel with pulled pork. I think the Rancho Zabaco wines suggested above, which are right around $10 and not particularly good Zins weould be better than any good Zin. Better yet, use these wines to make a sangria.

                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                What, tomato not going with Sangiovese? Sorry, but my palate tells me that you are way off base.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Yes, well . . . I agree with you, Bill, that Sangiovese and Zinfandel will both work with tomato, and while I generally prefer beer with my BBQ, wine can definitely work BUT -- and I think this is crucial -- a lot depends upon the sauce itself: how hot, how vinegary, mustard- or ketchup-based, etc., etc., as well as the specific Zinfandel . . . high alcohol Zins, in my experience, will merely become "hotter" if the sauce has spice and heat. This is (IMHO) why the suggestion of a lightly chilled Beaujolais works so well . . .


                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Oh I DO agree on the sauce. Some are almost all vinegar, and are much tougher. OTOH, I like a lot of the Carolina "vinegar-based" sauces, but rather shy away from pairing those with wines.

                                    I am a bit less a "sauce fan," and with many variations on Carolina BBQ, only allow it as a side element. Some BBQ restaurants in both Carolinas will refuse to serve ANY sauce.


                          2. Some cider, such as Magners, could go well with BBQ, and appeal to non-beer drinkers.

                            Apple is used as a specialty wood for smoking. Apple juice is employed in some mop recipes. And cider vinegar is commonly found in sauces, such as for North Carolina-style pulled pork. So there could be a natural affinity between BBQ and a good, crisp apple cider.

                            1. Regarding alternatives to beer and BBQ and the difficulties in matching wine to it, I had an excellent unfiltered cider from Normandy today that would go very well with pork (though in chunks rather than the stringy variety) and would be a step up from the still very tasty Irish Magners that I suggested the other day. I’ve included two links to some reviews of it below. In Alberta it’s $13 for a 750 ml bottle, but is probably a few dollars cheaper in the States where it’s available.

                              Domaine de la Minotiere, Cidre Fermier Bio, Brut,



                              1 Reply
                              1. re: VitalForce

                                Interesting, and thank you for the suggestion.

                                I often do a cider (like Long Bow), with my Fish-n-Chips in London, due to the vinegar. Those pair perfectly for me, and better than any wine (limited selections in nearly every pub), that I have encountered.

                                At the Green House, Mayfair, London, I had a great Canadian Late Harvest Cider with an Apple-infused Foie Gras, and it was absolutely the ultimate wine/food pairing, but that is OT for BBQ.