The mofo guide to pairing | BBQ
Our barbecues are as diverse as we are - giving an exhaustive list of all combinations of wines that could work for when you’re grilling up a storm would turn this from an article into a novel. And who’s got the time for that when the hotplate is sizzling and your thoughts are turning thirsty? Here’s our guide for when you’re tying on an apron and picking up the grill tongs.
Consider the meat
What’s a BBQ if not protein heavy? Whether you’re spit roasting a suckling pig or staying humble with a couple of snags, it’s more than likely to be the main event of what’s going on here, so have a think about how your wine is going to show up in support. Our general tip - use the protein vs fat ratio in what you’re sizzling up as your gauge to match to.
Tannin loves to wrap around protein, which is why those big heavy reds have such a grip on your palate; acid loves to melt through fat. The denser, meatier the cut, the more tannin in the wine will have fun; the more fat on the plate, the more acidity in the wine will be your mate to refresh and revive your palate between mouthfuls.
Check out: South African Selection - Red Wine
Let fish in on the fun too, though think about what it’s swimming in when you serve it. Richer, creamy sauces like tartar will sit really nicely against richer and rounder whites, though if you’re keeping things as simple as possible, then consider going a little more zippy and fresh.
Check out: South African Selection - White Wine
Going animal free for this barbie and looking for a steer? Check out our veggie pairings tips for a few pointers.
... and also the heat
Whether you’re cooking over flame, charcoal or on the smoker, your method is going to inform the level of char and smoke you’re dealing with. Spice rubs, level of smokiness, cut of meat are all going to have a part to play too, so we’ll strip it right back. If you’re using smoke then opting for a wine that’s seen a bit of oak isn’t a bad shout, as winemakers often use oak to impart flavours and aromas of spice and smoke into their wine - it’s complementary to what you’re doing here. If you’re using a lighter cooking method, reach for a lightly or unoaked wine. Keep it simple.
Make rosé your all rounder
If you can’t make up your mind, rosé to the rescue. Most rosés will have enough acidity to complement or contrast any meat, fish or veggie dish you’re grilling up; some dry sweetness and herbal notes to tread softly with any spice or smoke you’ve got going on. It’s what sunblushed summer days are all about.
Variety is the spice of life
There’s never one flavour, dish or guest at a barbecue, so why should there just be one wine? We all customise our plates at the table - some of us load up on the snags; others on the salad. Likewise, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to pairing, what flavours they like to lean into, and what they like to avoid, so lay out a selection of varietals for you and your guests to mix, match and chat between. Still can’t decide? Leave it to us and grab a mixed case.
Keep it classy, keep it cool
Unless you’re a very, very rare breed of mofo who enjoys the taste of warm wine (hey, you do you), make sure you’ve got an esky or cool bucket with ice on hand to keep your vino nice and chill.
For reds, bear in mind that if the serving temp specifies room temperature, they mean 18-22 degrees; not in the heat of the sun next to the grill. Keep the bottle shaded and wrapped in a wet towel or cooler sleeve (pssst… some reds are even better chilled, see our guide).
Life’s too short for long lecturing guides so we’ll leave you with the most important thing to remember - don’t overthink it and enjoy yourself, mofo. Just remember to stock up beforehand.