By Betty Gold
July 01, 2019
pidjoe - Poh Kim Yeoh / EyeEm

‘Tis the season!

Picking wines that complement all of the tangy, salty, and sweet flavors of our favorite grilled foods can be a challenge. So many different types of palettes to please! But before you throw in the towel and settle for a case of Bud Light and pinot grigio, we’d like to eliminate all of your intimidation. Seriously, you’ll be pairing burgers with Beaujolais and more like a straight up sommelier just in time for the Fourth.

To get the intel on how to bring your barbecue fare to life with the right bottle, we consulted the experts at Vivino, the world’s largest online wine marketplace. Their wine pros helped us round up these recommendations for the best varietals for every type of grill party guest. Whether you’re hosting pulled pork people or those that tend towards tofu, we promise they’ll be sipping something that sizzles *harmoniously.*

Hamburgers

Pair with Beaujolais Red. Burgers are summer grilling staples, so it's only fitting that they pair with the number one summer barbecue wine: Beaujolais. Light, fresh, and fun, Beaujolais is extremely food-friendly, with peppy red cherry and strawberry flavors and a touch of earth.

Hot dogs

Pair with dry, textured rosé. The toppings make the hot dog, so the key is to find a wine versatile enough to pair with anything you can throw atop a dog. It's hard to go wrong with a dry rosé, but look for one with some character to it, be it earthy minerality, zippy acidity, or unique, savory flavors.

Grilled corn

Pair with unoaked Chardonnay. Sweet, salty, buttery grilled corn needs a wine that will accent but not overwhelm its flavors, which is why Chardonnay aged in steel or old oak is a natural match. Most unoaked Chardonnays still go through malolactic fermentation, creating a creamy, buttery texture, but without flavors of vanilla and baking spice that would overwhelm the corn.

Grilled seafood

Pair with a minerally Sicilian white. Embrace the essence of grilled seafood with a salty, zesty island white. Sicilian white wines, particularly those grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, have a distinct volcanic minerality, lemon acidity, and a touch of salinity, creating a beach-reminiscent vibe.

Grilled tofu

Pair with Champagne or crémant. Vegetarians need barbecue options too, and creatively prepared tofu can be an excellent substitute for otherwise meat-heavy festivities. The bubbles in Champagne provide a nice contrast to the texture of tofu, while tart citrus flavors and focused acidity make it able to pair with almost any flavor profile.

Pork chops

Pair with Oregon Pinot Noir. Pork chops pair well with both red and white wine, but with a dry rub on the grill, red wine has the edge. Medium-bodied Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon has a little bit of everything that pork chops call for, flavor-wise, melding lush New World cherry cola-esque fruit with Old World-reminiscent earth.

North Carolina-style pulled pork

Pair with off-dry Riesling. For a wine to stand up to North Carolina-style pulled pork's vinegar-based sauce, two things are crucial: sugar and acid. Off-dry Riesling is the answer, with mouthwatering acidity and just a touch of residual sugar to keep the wine from seeming too austere.

Memphis-style pulled pork

Pair with juicy Zinfandel. Slightly sweeter than the North Carolina-style, smoky, spiced Memphis-style pulled pork calls for a wine with juicy, round fruit, like a classic California Zinfandel. While Zinfandel can be overly jammy and high-alcohol, the best examples balance body with acidity, allowing fresh red and blackberry fruit to burst onto the palate and complement the pork.

Ribs

Pair with Northern Rhône Syrah. For a knock-out baby back rib pairing, embrace the flavors that make ribs so darn good with a wine that carries them all. Full of smoke, meat, and black peppery goodness, Syrah from the northern Rhône is right on the money as if someone took the smoked ribs themselves and put them into the wine.

Steak

Pair with Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Matching steak and Napa Cab is a no-brainer, but to take the pairing to a new level, look up—up the mountain, that is. Vineyards situated within the mountain ranges that form the Napa Valley, such as Spring Mountain District or Chiles Valley, have the added benefit of elevation, creating a more restrained, elegant style of wine.

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