Wine and brew: the art of pairing bbq

Grilling, Kelly B's 101, Smoking

Ready to step up your grill game with a little pairing action? A perfectly smoked piece of meat can reach a whole new level of flavor when paired with a good beer or wine.

Let’s start with the beer:

Beer and BBQ is a match made in heaven and there are endless combinations you can craft when pairing your grilled or smoked meat with a brew. Here are just a few:

Pork-Brown Ale, Amber Ale or Lagers
Burgers-Dark IPA, Smoke-Style Porter or Regular Porter
Steaks- Stout or Porter
Chicken-Amber Lager, Blonde, Wheat

The main goal when pairing is to either match flavors that are present in both the food and the beverage or fill a missing hole. Your taste buds can detect five different flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. So when pairing your meat, consider what you’re serving, the type of sauce and how to balance out those flavors.

In my book, a light beer like Kansas City’s Boulevard Wheat or KC Bier Company’s Dunkel are both solid choices across the board. If you can, branch out and try your hand at a microbrew or two. If you’re having a hard time deciding, don’t overthink it. Just pick up your dinner guests’ favorite beer and call it good!

Time to wine:

Enough about the beer, let’s move on to one of my favorite topics: wine. When it comes to wine, do not underestimate the power it can have on food. If paired correctly, a wine can transform your barbecue experience with just a few sips. (Although we encourage a glass or two).

A bold red makes for safe pairing with any barbecued meal. You’ll find the smokiness of the wine mixes perfectly with your meat. If reds aren’t your thing, try a white like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, especially if you’re enjoying pork or chicken. If you’re feeling fancy, bust out some bubbly. Pair with juicy grilled fruit or a dessert to add a little something extra to the end of your meal. Overall, aim to balance your flavors with your pairings – such as sweet and savory or pepper and smoke. Here are some other pairings to consider.

Pork-Red Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or Reisling
Burgers-Malbec, Temprenillo or Red Zinfandel
Beef-Chianti, Syrah or Bordeaux
Chicken-Cabernet Franc, Dry Rosé or Carignan

No matter the meal you’re having or the beverage you pair it with, don’t forget to toast! This small act is a sincere gesture, welcoming your company to the table and acknowledging the hard work that went into preparing the meal you’re about to feast upon. When you toast, make sure to do it right. Don’t stare at the glasses being clinked together. Instead look at each individual, being sincere and letting them know you really see them. Do this once and I am sure you’ll want to continue this tradition for every occasion.

If you need some toasting inspiration, here is one of my favorites.

“Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking. If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart. If you fight, may you fight for your brother. If you drink, may you drink with me.”

We’re always looking for new toasts to use. If you have one, share it with us here in the comments, or on social media! You just may see it appear in a future blog post.