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BBQ drinks guide: best red wine for barbecues

Forget rolling out humdrum beer and cider for BBQ drinks – add extra BBQ sizzle with our summer guide to the best white and red wine for barbecues.
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If you’re planning a bit of a barbie with a few mates then you need to follow the one BBQ rule: if your hands are empty, they need to be holding either food or a drink, pronto. Even the master of BBQ ceremonies has to stay hydrated at all times. And while reaching for a cold one makes beer one of the most obvious of go-to BBQ drinks, there are alternatives to cracking a tinny.

Aussie reds and whites wines are the perfect summer BBQ alcoholic drinks. There’s a huge variety of wines to choose from with a kaleidoscope of intriguing flavour profiles. With a bit of planning, you can find the perfect wine that pairs with pretty much everything you can chuck on the barbie – from chooks to bangers and burgers to veggies.

BBQ drinks guide – red and white wine

With all these choices, it’s best to start with the basics – do you choose white or red wine for barbecues?

BBQ drinks - red wine for barbecues

Do you drink red or white wine at a BBQ?

The long and short answer is you can drink both. White and red wine pair excellently with any BBQ menu – even food of the chargrilled-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life variety.

So, which wine goes with which dishes?

How to drink red wine at a BBQ

Much like you would find in a restaurant, certain foods best pair with red wine, such as red meat and BBQ fayre smothered in smoky BBQ sauces. When cooking on a barbie, the flavours and textures of food can change, meaning not every red wine goes with every red meat dish.

Here are some of our favourites grape varieties:

Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the more complex grape varieties with many layers of flavour, Cabernet Sauvignon can almost be savoury with its deep, warming flavours and high tannin count. Cabernet Sauvignon goes perfectly with red meat like steaks and burgers, but it can also be a delicious partner for sharp cheeses like Parmesan and Manchego (both good burger toppings) and spicy BBQ sauces.

RECOMMENDED: Try our smoky and oh-so-generous The Red Sedan Cabernet Sauvignon blend or, if you’re cooking lamb, we recommend our Coonawarra Cabernet, Catbird Seat.

Shiraz

A rich, floral and smoky wine, our Shiraz is our favourite to bring to a BBQ. It cuts perfectly through the flavour of fatty meats such as steak, duck, spare ribs and lamb leg. For veggies, pair it with hearty zucchinis, mushrooms, peppers and beetroots that help take on its smoky flavour and add a little sweetness to your mouthful when cooked over coals.

RECOMMENDED: Say hello to our powerful, complex Dogs of the Barossa Shiraz.

Pinot Noir

Because of its complex blend of fruits, spices and woody notes and its light-to-medium body, a glass of Pinot Noir can be served with just about anything. This easy-to-drink wine variety can be paired with nearly all BBQ dishes, from beef burgers to grilled salmon to chicken.

BBQ drinks - chuck some bangers on the barbie

How to drink white wine at a BBQ

White wine pairs amazingly with lots of BBQ favourites, thanks to its light flavour and refreshing feel. But because of each grape variety’s subtle flavours, some whites pair better with certain dishes than others:

Chardonnay

One of the most popular grape varieties in the world, a crisp and light Chardonnay should always have a place in your BBQ drinks selection. Paired best with seafood such as grilled fish and shellfish, as well as chicken, its clean taste is also perfect for cutting through sweet and rich BBQ sauces and marinades.

RECOMMENDED: Discover Harmonie Rox Chardonnay, our top-notch BBQ Chardie.

Pinot Grigio

Simple and fruity, a dry Pinot Grigio is best served with lighter BBQ dishes. Think seafood, green salads, grilled veggies and mild, creamy cheeses. The citrus and stone fruit notes, like apricot and peach, make it the perfect summer bottle. It’s best to avoid heavier BBQ sauces with this one.

Sauvignon Blanc

Dry and crisp to taste, with flavour notes of apple, passionfruit and light herbs, Sauvignon Blanc is best served with BBQ dishes that hold onto their smoky flavour.

Want more advice? Read our guide to choosing the best red or white wine for any occasion.

BBQ drinks - BBQ alcoholic drinks

How should I serve the wine?

Because of their different flavour profiles, you shouldn’t just open and pour out to eager mates without a bit of prep. Serve red and white wine as BBQ drinks the same way, and you can seriously change how they taste. From the type of glass to ambient temperature to blending into summer wine cocktails, all can enhance your BBQ experience.

So how do you serve wine at your BBQ properly?

Wine temperature

Red wine and white wine are best served at different temperatures, but only one of them needs to go in the fridge, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

White wine is best served chilled, but don’t stick the bottle back in the cooler once everyone has a glass. If you leave white wine to sweat a little on the table, its delicious flavours and aromas will slowly develop more as its temperature rises. This is a great way to serve many wine varieties, especially a Chardonnay.

For red wine, the general rule is to always serve it at a cooler room temperature (around 12-13 degrees celsius). If it’s too cold, you won’t enjoy the complex flavours, but if served too warm, the wine can overpower the food. With red wine, it’s all about finding that sweet spot.

What do I serve my wine in?

The glasses you serve your wine in can also impact its temperature and flavour.

White wine glasses are slightly taller and less open than red wine glasses, stopping too much heat from entering the wine and altering its flavour profile. Red wine likes to breathe, which means it needs more heat and air to enter it to help develop its flavours and aromas – this is why red wine glasses tend to be larger.

Wine cocktails

If your BBQ is more party than a cookout, why not get a little creative with how you serve your wine?

Brits love a batch cocktail served in massive jugs or drink dispensers that they can help themselves to, so why not try a fruity white wine spritzer for everyone to enjoy or a mouthwatering Spanish-inspired sangria? Make sure the other alcohols or fruits you add to your cocktails complement the flavour profile of the wine for maximum taste.

Batch wine cocktails can be prepped ahead of time (just jot down the ratios and chop up the fruit), so when it’s time to mix the next batch, all you have to do is throw everything in, give it a stir, and hurry back before someone steals the last of the ribs!

Bonza!