What wine with bbq?

So first let me clarify, I mean barbecue, not grilled meats. (being from the south, there is a difference :smiley:). We will be serving traditional pulled pork(cooked overnight in the smoker, but not particularly smokey flavored when done) with a choice of 2 sauces, one is a “Georgia” style (vinegar, tomato based) and the other is a North Carolina style (mustard type). We will also have ribs, beef and pork and beef brisket. Sides will be Brunswick stew, smoked gouda mac n cheese, coleslaw (we do memphis style, mayo, vinegar, and sugar dressing) and some greens.
I’m guessing a red, but wondered what you experts might suggest. I’m going to try to have 2-3 selections on hand for fun.


Zinfandel will likely be the popular answer but since I don’t like Zins I usually go Pinot

IMO, new world Syrah and Zin. Those are my two go-to wines for BBQ. I’m not an expert, though. Just a young wino. :slight_smile:


Thank you for knowing the difference! I love funky southern French stuff with my piggy. Cotes du Rhone, Languedoc, Gaillac, etc.

I would go for my favorite chilled rose.

Riesling can work if you want to insert a white. You have fat in the food, and acid in the sauces so something a little higher in acidity no matter the color of the wine. I happen to like a young Chianti with bbq.

1 Like

Lot’s of good choices…

Zinfandel, Beaujolais, Chianti, Gigondas, most New World Syrahs, most Grenache-based blends from the south of France… A fuller-bodied rosé would also be a good choice.

But I have a small bone to pick with your post: mustard-based BBQ sauce is most decidedly not “North Carolina style.” North Carolina is responsible for many things, good and bad, but mustard sauce is not one of them. Credit (or blame) where due: South Carolina. Mustard sauce is a central South Carolina phenomenon, centered around Columbia, though of late it has been popping up in other places - though rarely in North Carolina.

There is no single “North Carolina style” BBQ sauce. Instead, there are three regional variations:

(1) Eastern North Carolina sauce is apple cider vinegar and crushed red pepper, no tomato within 100 miles. “People who would put ketchup in the sauce they feed to innocent children are capable of most anything.” ~ Dennis Rogers, Raleigh News & Observer.

(2) Central/Piedmont North Carolina sauce (“Lexington style”, and usually called “dip” instead of “sauce”) is ketchup and vinegar based, fairly thin and not very sweet. No molasses.

(3) Western North Carolina sauce (and South Carolina sauce in most parts of the state where mustard doesn’t hold sway) is tomato/ketchup based, thick and sweet.

This map is far from correct in all respects, but it does accurately depict the “mustard zone”:

EDIT: Recipes

Eastern NC mop sauce
1-1/2 cups of cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup (or more) crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper

Piedmont NC Lexington dip
1 cup distilled vinegar (do not use cider vinegar)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Columbia SC style mustard sauce
2 cups prepared yellow mustard
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or 1 cube
2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Like

Zin or Grenache

Coming from Arkansas, yes, BBQ is specific

I would have something on hand with some residual sugar. Any dry wine tastes like crap with those types of sauces to me and many other people.

Great list. Add modern Spanish reds and Argentine Malbec and go (I prefer the traditionalists in the abstract, but for barbecue I’d grab an Eric Solomon wine and be done with it). Nuance will be lost in any event.

The only thing to be careful of is not going high alcohol or tannin plus high heat in the sauce. Each will make the other more jarring.

I tend to prefer a syrah from the northern Rhone, which often has some smoked meat flavor as well, and acidity that helps match the vinegar in the sauce. Zin can be another good choice, as can pinot noir if it isn’t too bubblegum or cola styled.

But two other options worth trying are off-dry German Riesling or dry Austrian Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. Germanic wines are magic with pork.

It sounds like a great meal, and I hope you report back on the wines you pick and how you enjoy the pairings.

Finally, a pedantic point. Mustard sauce is a South Carolina style, not North Carolina. I’m not a big fan of it, personally, but tastes vary, and the whites I mentioned should be particularly good with the mustard sauce.

all good answers are taken
extra points for Brother Flemming’s brilliant dissertation. [cheers.gif]

Any good lowcountry South Carolinian will tell you that BBQ was invented here. neener
Of course most of these people are illiterate…

I completely agree with this, but I find it funny that it eliminates many of the wines that are so commonly suggested. Beyond the heat effect, there’s the heightening of bitterness and robbing of fruit that happens to the wine, not just because of heat, but also the sweet/savory nature of most BBQ sauces. That’s going to be magnified where there’s noticeable oak or elevated alcohol in the wine. Really, for red, I think Lambrusco is the answer. Many other things work fine for many people, though.

Good question and worthy answers!

Agree that many of the wines suggested pose the risk, but not ALL zinfandels are 16+%.

Sure, that’s true. Some are quite moderate in alcohol. Almost all of them have an obvious oak presence, though, but of course, there are some that don’t.

And don’t forget the beer. I had a few Westbrook One Claw Rye Pale Ales with some pork bbq today that paired quite nicely with both a vinegar/red pepper sauce and a mustard sauce. Or find yourself some Sweetwater LowRYEder IPA. I think the rye ales are a nice match as well.

Zinfandel with barbecue is absolutely repulsive to me. I don’t understand why so many people recommend it. I’d go with riesling or Champagne. I have yet to find a red that works as well. Something that’s both fresh and fruity like a Ribeira Sacra would be OK. But I’d still sooner go riesling or Champagne.

Yup. Off dry Riesling and off dry Loire Chenin (a rich Sec, even) are my favorites. Sparkling Loire Chenin can be a good match, too.

Love the thread. I’m “from” California but lived in Atlanta for 16+ years (and only Southerners really understand “human terroir” when a matriarch asks “It’s nice to see you, and where are you from?” – has nothing to do with where one resides), and now live in NE Ohio. “BBQ” for me will ALWAYS be synonymous with the cooking device itself AND with Tri Tip. Just sayin’.

Having said that, I always love big wines to stand up to big flavors of southern bbq. My favorite with BBQ is actually Rioja. Also, I like the pepper of Zin, the fruit of Syrah, the backbone of a Malbec. Might be a fun chance to pair with a Mourvedre. I’m hungry now, though.

1 Like