Learn How To Pair Delicious Barbecue Meats With Wine And Beer With This Cheatsheet

by Angel Chang
Angel is a writer on the Original Content team at LittleThings. Check out her articles about crucial tips on female and doggie health. She loves to take long walks, volunteer with kids, try new food, browse through burger recipes, and code in her spare time. Feel free to let her know what you'd like to see her write up next.

I love going to outdoor barbecues.

If you’re hosting an outdoor cookout, there can be many creative ways to reinvent classic dishes, from the side dish you end up putting on the table to the kinds of drinks you serve.

One of the things that continues to stump me is how to best balance out the flavors of every dish that is offered. One of the primary ways to do this is by superbly pairing drinks with our all-time favorite barbecue meats.

I absolutely love the cheatsheet you’re about to see. Inspired by some of the food and wine experts out there, it has profoundly simplified the barbecue meat and drink pairing process for me, and has taught me a thing or two about complementing savory flavors.

Hopefully, you will find it useful, too, and apply it to your own barbecue. What did you think of the pairings below? Let us know in the comments, and please SHARE!

1. Beef Brisket

Best barbecue meat pairings wine and beer
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Try a stout beer. Its smoky, slightly chocolatey flavors will enhance the already rich, roasted meat. For a wine pairing, try a Bordeaux red, as they have a little more “weight,” or structure. For a fruitier wine, go with the Merlot.

2. Beef Ribs

Best bbq meat pairings wine
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Beers like the Samuel Adams Octoberfest have a little spice and a crisp sweetness that will go well with the ribs. If you’d prefer wine, go with the perfumed and slightly sweet Pinot noir.

3. Sausage

Best barbecue meat and alcohol pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Red and amber lagers like the Yuengling or Blue Point Toasted lagers have a dense maltiness. This will go well with the caramelized crust of the sausages. Or, try a wine with ripe, fruity berry and pepper notes, like the Primitivo.

4. Pulled Pork

Best barbecue meat pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Blonde ales, like the Narragansett or Blue Point Summer ales, are sweeter and less bitter than the traditional ale. For a lighter zing, you can try a sparkling rosé for a wine.

5. Smoked Chicken

Best barbecue meat and beer pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Amber lagers like Brooklyn lager are pretty versatile. Or, try a nice Riesling — made from a white grape variety and higher in its sugar content, which will do well with the spices on the chicken.

6. Pork Shoulder

Best barbecue beer pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Beers with a high amount of hops and smoked malts, like the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, are ideal. If you’d like a wine, go with a classic Chardonnay, which gives a leaner taste.

7. Baby Back Pork Ribs

Best barbecue meat pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

When it comes to pork, it’s always nice to pair it with something that will help cut through the grease. Try a hoppy beer, like the Dogfish Head IPA, or the Samuel Adams Latitude 48. The robust Zinfandel, with its occasional raspberry and blackberry tones, can be wonderful, as well.

8. Grilled lamb

Best barbecue meat and wine pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

The lamb’s rustic, earthy flavor can be well complemented by a Belgian-style abbey double, like the subtly sweet Ommegang Abbey Ale. For a wine, try Italian reds, like Chianti or Barbera, which are less fruity.

9. Sliced Turkey

Best barbecue meat pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Any sweet “summer-style” session beer will pair well with turkey. And, with its hint of sweetness, a dry rosé can help cut through the fat of the meat.

10. Vegetable Grill

Best barbecue meat pairings
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

Wheat beers, like Blue Moon, are the ultimate favorites for a light pairing. On the other side, full-bodied wines like Chablis can help enhance the flavors of the vegetables. 

Are you going to try out these pairings at your next summer cookout? Let us know, and please SHARE!

For a full list of photo credits, click here.