Group multi-ethnic friends having lunch at farmhouse table - Diverse young people sitting at home during bbq party -  African guy taking the grilled chicken wings by hands

I live in a place where we can grill most of the year. Albeit, sometimes there’s sweat pouring down my face because it’s so hot and humid, but I can still be out there grilling. Besides, that’s what pools are for. Despite being able to grill almost year-round, there’s something about the warmer months that gets me even more excited to go outside and fire up the grill. Maybe it’s because school is out and we have more time to hang out. Or maybe it’s because I pretend that I get to work less in the summer. Ha! Whatever it is, I’m always excited to throw all sorts of things on the grill. And whether at home or invited to someone else’s cookout, I will always have some tasty BBQ wines in tow. Now, let’s be clear, this is not something to overthink. But a great wine pairing will absolutely enhance your dining experience by heightening flavours, textures and qualities in the food, that you might otherwise miss. And y’all already know that I firmly believe there is a wine for anything and that includes everything you put on the grill. Or smoker. Or pit.

It’s grilling season!

BBQ Wines for Seafood and Vegetables

As the least carnivorous member of the family, I’m always trying to compromise and find that I can always squeeze some seafood in alongside the traditional proteins that the family loves. 

Grilled Lobster & Shrimp

Unoaked Inama Soave is great with simply grilled lobster or shrimp.

If it’s been a while (like decades) and you think you don’t love Soave, try again. Soave is an Italian white wine primarily made from the Garganega grape in the Veneto region. It’s known for its crisp, dry, and light-bodied characteristics, along with citrus, vibrant acidity, and mineral freshness. One of my faves is Inama Carbonare Soave Classico (SRP $30). Inama is a classic producer in the region and I love this version of their Soave which is one of their fresher styles that only sees stainless steel. Lots of ripe lemon and savory salinity which is perfect for grilled shellfish. It’s like you don’t even have to squeeze the lemon on the shrimp!

Grilled Oysters

When it comes to oysters, I’m ‘Team Grilled.’ And I absolutely love them with Parmesan cheese, butter, and a squeeze of lemon. Sure, I could grab champagne or even Muscadet, but Verdicchio, specifically Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a great choice. It hails from the Marche region of Italy and is known for being crisp, acidic, and refreshing with green apple, lemon, almond, mineral, and herbal characteristics.

My bet goes to Garofoli’s ‘Podium’ Verdicchio (SRP $30). Garofoli is one the oldest and most celebrated family-owned wineries in Italy’s Marche region. I’ve had this wine on a number of occasions and love that they are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this wine. The grapes are grown mere miles from the Adriatic Sea which gives this one vibrant acidity and saline notes. It absolutely wants to be paired with some amazing seafood.

Grilled Vegetables

There is nothing like in-season, summer veggies on the grill. Even my non-veggie lovers gain a new appreciation when vegetables get a kiss of smoke and char. #Winning! Some of my faves are zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn. Sure you could grab a Sauvignon Blanc which is classic with veggies, but we’re here to be different. Instead, grab a bottle of Grillo.

Try some Grillo with grilled veggies.

Grillo is a white wine from Sicily that was historically used in Marsala. I loves me some Chicken Marsala! But these days, winemakers are making it into a varietal dry wine. Grillo tends to be aromatic and fresh with great acidity, fresh lemon-lime, floral, some tropical fruits, as well as some herbal notes. A good one to grab is the Tenuta Whitaker Mozia Grillo (SRP $25). Mozia is a tiny historic island off the western coast of mainland Sicily. One of Sicily’s greatest producers – Tasca d’Almerita – has a hand in this one, which is a solid bet each vintage. I’m also partial to Donnafugata’s Grillo (SRP $28).

BBQ Wines for ‘The Meats’

Grilled Chicken

OK, let’s be clear, I love an oaked (notice I didn’t say “oaky”) Chardonnay as well as a light-bodied Pinot Noir with grilled or smoked chicken. Chardonnay for simply grilled or smoked and Pinot when I add some sauce. But, like I said before, we’re mixing things up. In this case, grab some Zweigelt.

A trip to Austria a few years ago opened my eyes to all the amazing red wines of Austria. Zweigelt, which is the most widely planted red grape in all of Austria, was created by a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent (both of which I also love). It covers the wine spectrum from fruity, easy-drinking, non-wood versions to bolder, more structured wines that see some oak. In all cases, it is known as a crowd pleaser that both white and red wine drinkers alike can enjoy. Most offer up juicy red berry fruit as well as subtle spice. A sure bet, that is also widely distributed is the Nittnaus Blauer Zweigelt (SRP $20).

Grilled Steak

My go-to for grilling steak used to be a ribeye. But lately, I’ve been drawn to T-bones. This is primarily because bone-in steaks seem to be getting harder to find. Everything seems to be boneless, which is actually quite annoying. Don’t people understand what the bone does for flavor?! But I digress. As T-bones are a little less fatty than ribeyes, I’ve found that I’ve also lighted up my wine of choice when grilling steaks. I really enjoy a nice Chianti Classico Riserva here. I was reminded of Chianti when my friend Jeremy Parzen, Italian food and wine historian and author of the site, wrote an article about the 100 year anniversary of the Chianti Classico consortium. Aha!

Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva is a great accompaniment to a grilled T-bone steak.

Chianti Classico Riserva differs from other Chianti wines in a couple of key ways. The grapes for the wines must come from the Chianti Classico area, which is the historical and central part of the Chianti region known for higher quality vineyards. As a ‘Riserva,’ the wine must be aged for a minimum of 24 months, including at least 3 months of bottle aging. This extra aging time allows the wine to develop more complexity as well as allows the flavors to really integrate. We end up with a wine that is a little richer, with firmer tannins but still with the balanced acidity that Chianti is known for. And grilled steaks beautifully complement the more robust flavors in the wine. Look for the Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva (SRP $36). The winery is a benchmark for Chianti Classico and is known for its pioneering work with certified organic viticulture and its portfolio of wines that blend centuries-old tradition with cutting edge innovation.

Classic Smoky Texas BBQ

OK, I’ve been talking grilled this and that. But y’all know my heart lies with some smoky Texas BBQ which means ya gotta pull out the smoker. Ribs and brisket slow smoked is a way of life. And yes, there is a wine for that. Of course, I gotta rep some Texas wine when we’re talking smoky Texas BBQ. More and more, I’ve been seeing Petite Sirah make an appearance as a varietal wine and let me tell you, it may just be one of the perfect BBQ wines around. Petite Sirah is known for being dark and inky with bold flavors and robust tannins. Those bold characteristics complement the smoky, charred flavors found in slow-smoked brisket, ribs, and sausage. Yum!

One of my faves is the Bending Branch Newsom Vineyards Petite Sirah (SRP $40). I love that I can get it locally as well as from the winery. You’ll thank me later for putting together a tasty and memorable pairing!

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to mix things up when it comes to your beverage of choice at your outdoor cookouts. Now get out there and grill. Or smoke. Or whatever outdoor cooking you like to do. And be sure to take some great BBQ wines with you!

**Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock

No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posts You Might Like

Keep in Touch

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this

Keep In Touch

Subscribe for updates from
The Corkscrew Concierge