BBQ Ribs Wine Pairing

Think beyond beer and go with wine to elevate the taste of delish BBQ ribs!

  • When choosing a wine for the outdoor setting, don’t go for the top of the shelf options. Keep it simple so that the wine pairs well with the food and the casual settings!
  • For barbeque beef ribs, go for earthy wines that enhance the pepper and tobacco flavors of BBQ beef ribs. Think Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese Cabernet blends, or Bordeaux and Shiraz.
  • For barbeque pork ribs, red wines with fruity flavors and sweeter, acidic notes are great choices. Think Red Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.
  • For BBQ Chicken, Rosé, White Zinfandel, Gewürztraminer and Off-Dry Riesling are splendid choices.

You have gathered your family and friends to your backyard patio, and the smell of barbecue makes its way towards you. Irresistible, you are drawn to it and settle down to satiate those BBQ cravings. All that spice and all that food are bound to make you super thirsty, and you would want something great to drink. This is where the problem arises because you are unsure what wine will pair well with those BBQ delights. 

Delicious succulent ribs can be prepared from pork, chicken, or beef. For a wine to go with these, the spice levels and sauces used are important considerations. Before you pair wine with BBQ, chill them for half an hour or so! It frees the taste buds of the fat that meat leaves behind. It then replaces it with cool acidity.

There are plenty of wine varietals that are inexpensive, delicious, and make a great pairing with barbeque stuff.

Beef Ribs: 

Wines that enhance the pepper and tobacco flavors of BBQ beef ribs and bring them out beautifully are the best choice. 

Indian Creek California Shenandoah Valley Sangiovese, with its abundant red fruit flavor framed by lush tobacco flavors, is amazing with BBQ beef ribs.

Pork Ribs:

Red wines rich in fruit flavors with notes of sweetness are a delightful option with BBQ pork ribs. When you prepare pork barbeque, you will season it with sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors and sauces to go with it. So wines that are medium to full-bodied with smoky-spicy flavors to balance out the grilled pork’s smoke sweet and spice taste sounds just about right.

Aurelia Cellars Arroyo Seco, California Riesling is nicely balanced and carries refreshing juiciness from berries to go with your grilled pork.

Bramble Ridge Winery Amador California Zinfandel comes with spice-accented, sweet berry flavors that taste best when paired with hearty dishes like grilled pork ribs.

Samaritano Central Valley, Chile Merlot, with its medium-body, soft tannins, and expressive berry notes, make it a culinary feast when paired with BBQ pork ribs.

BBQ Chicken Ribs:

A variety of white wines lend a helping hand to BBQ chicken. Depending on the seasoning, you have to select the wine.

Dry-spice glazed BBQ Chicken seasoned with spices requires a full-bodied, herbaceous but off-dry earthy wine like the Bodega Mariposa Cellars Paso Robles, California Sauvignon Blanc. Bursting with citrus flavor, this wine is the perfect match with herb-seasoned roasted chicken. For chicken glazed in vinegar, mustard sauces or tart sauces also pair well with this particular wine.

For charred chicken breasts, with or without sweet sauces, warm climate Chardonnay from Australia, California, or Spain balances the palate beautifully. Fruit forward pops of citrus lemon, pineapple, and pear and the buttery smooth finish of Angmeil Barossa, Australia Spring Fever Chardonnay is your best bet. Beautiful!

Wine Varietals and their Barbeque Rib Pairing

Rose wines 

Rose wines will taste absolutely delicious with pulled pork as the aroma they impart is gorgeous. An excellent choice for almost all grilled edibles. Brisk and cool, they are more acidic than white wines. This is good to compensate for the grilled flavored foods. Bandol from Provence and Tavel from the Rhône Valley are popular choices for a mean grill!

Red wines 

Red wines will be amazing for steak, hamburgers, and BBQ ribs. Red wine is the safest and most excellent choice! Reds like Bordeaux, California Cabernet, and Barolo are perfect for BBQ ribs. If there are rib items on your menu, the Vibrant Cabernet is a wonderful choice. But if the spice from the wine turns the dish hot, go with Zinfandel or a similarly spicy Australian Shiraz or Argentine Malbec.

With the fruity aromas and rich, fruity notes on the palate, the Spanish beauty, April Bio Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, is a lovely choice. Its sweet and spicy notes complement a sweet or spicy BBQ sauce. The rich, fruity red brings out the juiciness of the ribs in the most stunning manner imaginable. 

The darker and more complex California Cabernet Sauvignon like – Allston Estates Paso Robles is particularly great with dry rubs.

Barbera is another red wine to take if you are looking for something slightly lighter than a Cabernet. The full-bodied fresh and fruity notes of Ciabot Berton Barbera D’Alba are to be had with grilled pork tenderloin.

Pinot Noir 

This is one of the most food-friendly of all the wines. Its delicate flavors do not overpower the BBQ and grilled food. This makes it a great match for seafood, poultry, and red meat. The earthy and almost smoky nature of Pinot Noir makes it a tasty pairing with smoked BBQs. The Spring Street Winery Pinot Noir is medium-bodied, well-rounded with earthy toasted oak notes, and tastes fantastic with grilled chicken and BBQ pork ribs.

White wines 

White wines and grilled chicken is a match made with wine-food pairing heaven! Sauvignon Blan or a cool Sancerre are both highly acidic and pairs delightfully with barbequed chicken and pork. A white wine with a balanced and citrus acidity like California Pinot Gris is good for just about any kind of rib.

Sparkling wines are always great on a summer day and lovely to have on those BBQ evenings. These bubblies not just help you beat the heat, but they also go well with any barbecued food. Don’t go with expensive or top-of-the shelf options. Prosecco or Cava, or maybe a light-bodied California Bubbly should be the companion for those delicious BBQs.

NV Sidewood Adelaide Hills, Australia Sparkling Wine with its refreshing, delicious, and fruity notes is great for ribs with a sweeter sauce. It cleanses the palate of spice and fat and will refresh your palate for more rich food to follow!

Not a fan of meat and worried that nothing will go well with your vegetable burgers? Well, Chardonnay has you covered! They are the best for veggie burgers. 

Regional BBQ and wine pairing

Kansas City BBQ: 

This region is characterized by tomato-based sweet sauces slathered over chicken, pork, or beef. So you need sweet and smoky reds to go with and deepen the flavors of the meats. Think Shiraz from California or Australia, and the 2 cabs – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Texas BBQ:

Texas BBQ is traditionally beef-based. This region boasts 4 styles of BBQs.

  • Central Texas – Uses oak and wood to smoke meat slowly
  • East Texas – They like their tomato-based sauces
  • South Texas – Focuses on thick, sweet sauces 
  • West Texas – Mesquite wood to cook over an open fire 

The smokey and flavorful beef cuts are glazed in sweet and smokey sauces. To pair with this, you need a full-bodied, bold red wine like Syrah or Chianti.

Memphis BBQ:

The Memphis people love their BBQ pork ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. The spices used here is a dry rub. Pork being less fatty than beef, there are plenty of varieties that will go great with it. This includes vintage Malbec, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Sangiovese, or Tempranillo, instead of the bigger Cabernet, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

When the vinegar sauce is added, you need to pair it with a wine with a good acidity level. Again a Malbec or Pinot Noir will work wonderfully.

If the pulled pork is served with a generous quantity of sauce, a nice acidic Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling from Australia will enhance the pork ribs better than any red wine.

Alabama Barbeque:

Alabama barbeque features a unique white sauce made from vinegar, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and most vitally, mayonnaise. The ideal blend of creamy, smoky, and spicy, crisp chardonnay styles like unoaked Chardonnay from warmer places like California, Spain, and Australia, crisp Chablis, earthy Pinot Gris, and Dry Roses are satisfying options.

Carolina Barbeque:

Vinegar is one of the main ingredients of sauces used in North Carolina. Predominantly this goes, above pork. The wine you are looking for should be acidic enough. A pinot noir or a Sirah will work well.

South Carolina, on the other hand, is popular for its distinct mustard-based sauces. Tangy and tasty, look to Sangiovese or sauvignon blanc accent the richness of pork without overpowering the dish.

Final “Pair” of advice:

Dry-rub ribs like BBQ beef ribs have tobacco and spicy pepper notes that respond well to earthier wines. The wet pork ribs need something fruitier with hints of sweetness to balance and enhance the sauce.

While choosing a wine for BBQ ribs, do not go for the top-of-the shelf wines, rather keep it simple. And finally, remember rules are meant to be broken! There is no such thing as a wrong pairing, sometimes you may just need to with your instincts, and it may turn out better than you ever expected!

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So, open that great bottle of wine, fire up your barbeque and enjoy drinking and dining like you’ve never done before!


Ren is the Editorial Director here at BARPX. She loves writing, running, hanging out, and enjoying her free time with friends and family. Got a new idea for an article? Hit her up at ren [at]

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