Who doesn't love barbeque? Chicken, ribs, pork, and even portabella mushrooms charred just a little with a sweet and smoky sauce is pure comfort food. And, let’s not forget the sides—corn on the cob, potato salad, and slow cooked baked beans makes for the perfect summer feast.
Barbeque is a cuisine full of regional variation, allowing for great diversity in terms of flavors. The underlying commonality is a rich blend of spices, sweetness and maybe a little bit of tang. The notes of tomato and brown sugar most often form the base, unless, of course, you’re going for a tart mustard sauce. But, I digress…
To help you properly enjoy your grilled, smoked, roasted or baked barbeque dishes, we’ve picked out a few common barbeque flavor profiles and paired them up with the perfect varietal.
Carolina barbeque might be one of the most well-known. Around these parts, a tomato and vinegar based sauce sweetened up with brown sugar and livened up with garlic, paprika and other spices makes for mild and balanced sauce. Typically, meat is served undressed, and you dunk or squeeze the sauce to your liking.
Pair with: Pinot Noir or Red Zinfandel
Because these dishes don’t come out swimming in sauce, Carolina barbeque lends itself to wetter wine and can carry more sweetness. Cherry, currant and light grape notes will play well with the slightly tangy sauce, which will be less caramelized since it’s not used in cooking.
Our southwestern friends play with fire when they do barbeque, and we like it. Sweet and spicy dry rubs and sauces scream of peppers and heat, elevating rich cuts of pork and chicken to new levels (but we hear it’s great on tofu or seitan, too!).
Pair with: Sauvignon Blanc
Don’t get crazy with your wine when spicy food is involved. Mild, wet and fruity with notes of pair, orange and apple will be your friends as you contend with the delicious spice of chipotle. And stay far away from dry blends! Your mouth will need all the drink it can get.
Memphis Sweet Barbeque
The rich, caramelized brown-sugar-laden barbeque is said to hail from Memphis, and with those sweet southern twangs, it’s not so hard to believe. Moist, saucy barbeque dishes are served up here, with subtle notes of molasses and vanilla.
Pair with: Chardonnay or Riesling
Keep it balanced and buttery here. A sweet Riesling will amplify the honey and molasses in Memphis sauces, while an oaky chardonnay can neutralize some of the intensity of dry rubs.
Texas, of course, has its own unique brand of barbeque. Here, the barbeque is distinguished by a robust smokiness that packs a bold flavor. Slow cooked and dry rubbed, mesquite BBQ shies away from the sweetness of other regions, opting instead for a more savory flavor to accentuate the natural goodness of your cut of meat.
Pair with: Sparkling Rosé
Mild and refreshing is called for when the flavors are deep and smoky. The heat of summer and the heat of a smoker will work well with something chilly and effervescent. The light sweetness and slight bite of a crisp rose is certainly the way to go if mesquite is on the menu.