Summer wines for BBQ pairings
Frannie Jiranek/Thrillist
Grillist

9 BBQ-Friendly Wines To Serve At Your Next Cookout

Because even grocery store hot dogs deserve a nice wine pairing.

With the laid-back vibe, paper plates, and no-fuss dishes associated with a cookout, washing down your meal with an ice cold brewski probably feels like muscle memory. But a well-paired glass of wine can be the key to turning your casual grilled meal into a next-level gastronomic experience. 

“I’m an advocate for opening up a delicious bottle of wine to go alongside my cookout," says Samantha Capaldi, certified sommelier. "The umami and high-fat content in your grilled meats covered in savory and tangy BBQ sauce will balance out the tannins in a bold red wine.
But white wines are just as important to stand alongside your grilled fish, citrus salads, and lightly seasoned meats.”

From reds, to whites, rosés, and even bubblies, these nine food-friendly wines want a place at your BBQ picnic table as much as we do.

Summer BBQ Wines
Frannie Jiranek/Thrillist

2017 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel ($16)

What’s a BBQ without an array of smoky meats? If you’re serving up sausages, ribs, and pulled pork, first off, we’re coming over -- but also, reach for a spicy, fruity red with enough oomph to stand up to the meat and complement its bold flavors. Hailing from California’s Mendocino County, this classic zinny (85% zinfandel, 15% petite sirah) is full-bodied as one would expect with soft-yet-drool-worthy tannins.  With each sip, you’ll get a burst of raspberries, cherry cola, bakings spices, and a hint of pepper, all leading up to the smooth finale. Oh, and watch out for that ABV: 14.8% can sneak up on ya. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

J Vineyards Pinot Gris ($20)

Think of pinot gris and pinot grigio as identical twins who were separated at birth and raised in different countries. They are literally the same grape (called pinot gris), so while they have the same DNA, they display distinct characteristics due to their different environments and upbringings. American-made pinot gris, like this refreshing bottle from Sonoma County, tend to exhibit less biting acidity than Italian pinot grigio, but with more exaggerated fruit flavors of green apple, pear, and citrus. Long story short, pair this wine with sea scallops, honey BBQ chicken, and grilled pineapple right the heck now. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

Dark Horse Rosé ($9)

A crisp, bright rosé can hang with the best of your food spread, from chip-and-dip appetizers to burgers and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears. Dark Horse rosé, a Provence-style wine hailing from California, is truly a BBQ no-brainer. Its unique blend of five varietals (grenache, barbera, pinot grigio, tempranillo, and zinfandel) drinks dry and simultaneously presents you with a complex burst of fruit to the mouth. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

Sea Pearl 2018 Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99)

The Marlborough region of New Zealand is known for their exceptional sauvignon blancs, many of which still have approachable price tags -- like a bottle (or five) of Sea Pearl, for instance. This refreshing and perfectly tangy white is a must for your next beach BBQ. Its flavor profile presents peppery and grassy flavors that mingle with refreshing lime and grapefruit, plus a crisp finish -- all of which combine to make a great accompaniment to shrimp kebabs, lemon basil chicken, grilled veggies… and second helpings. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

bbq wines
Frannie Jiranek/Thrillist

Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé ($25)

While we firmly believe that rosé season isn’t a thing (it should be enjoyed all year round!), there’s still no better way to celebrate summer than by popping a bone-dry rosé -- and pairing it with good company and an alfresco meal, of course. This light pink delight from Virginia’s wine country features acidity that brightens up its fruity flavors (strawberries and white peaches) and lingering citrus notes. You can’t go wrong with a bottle like this: the fresh profile creates perfect balance with a fattier dish like grilled salmon, and the citrus plays just as nicely with a tangy goat cheese, arugula, and grapefruit salad.

Zonin Prosecco ($12.99)

Sippin’ bubbly somehow always feels extra special, but that doesn’t mean you need to go putting your pinkies up about it -- especially not at a chill-vibe BBQ. Be celebratory without being snobby and pop some food- (and budget-) friendly Prosecco, then serve it up with grilled lobster and plastic bibs for all. Try Zonin, which is a dry, easy-drinking sparkler with pleasant fruit and almond notes that make a nice companion to the lobster meat. Its rich mousse-y texture and fine perilage (AKA, tight, sprightly bubbles) will also help bust through that buttery dipping sauce. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

2015 Purple Heart Red Blend ($20) 

Here’s a wine that’s fit for raising a patriotic toast on July Fourth in more ways than one. The Purple Heart Wines project is a collaboration between C. Mondavi & Family and the Purple Heart Foundation, raising money to serve the unmet needs of military men, women, and families. This inviting red blend is made up of merlot, zinfandel, petit verdot, and cabernet franc, all sourced from a small selection of choice lots in Sonoma County. In the spirit of patriotism, pair this bottle with something all-American and gamey, like lightly spiced steak kebabs or stuffed Gouda burgers; with the wine’s balanced tannins, velvety texture, and a taste of stewed fruits, black pepper, and toasted oak, you’ll be saluting the flavors combos in your mouth right along with the American flag. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

Murrieta’s Well “The Whip” ($26)

Napa and Sonoma are great and all, but allow us to introduce you to the Livermore Valley, one of California’s oldest wine regions and an unsung grape-growing hero. Over 30 varietals are able to flourish in the valley with its unique climate and geography, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, viognier, orange muscat, and muscat canelli -- all of which join forces to create The Whip’s gorgeous aromatics and textured mouthfeel. So get crackin’ (sorry, we had to) and pair this refreshing white with spicy shrimp kabobs, Cajun-rubbed grilled chicken, or hot dogs; the wine’s crisp acidity is perfect for cutting through the fat and enhancing the chargrilled meat flavor. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

Farmhouse Red ($15)

Wash down all that sweet-and-smoky BBQ sauce with this lighter-bodied red wine that won’t sit heavy (the chicken and ribs will handle that part). This red blend is up for the job, hailing from the sustainable Cline Vineyards in Sonoma, where the winemaker uses blending instead of over-oaking or manipulating to bring out the best in the fruits with each vintage. A perfect picnic table wine to match the relaxed vibe of the meal, Farmhouse Red features lush fruit flavors, black peppery notes, smooth tannins, and a medium toast from the 40% French oak-barrel aging. Pass the BBQ sauce, please. [Buy it now at Wine.com]

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Eatmail for more food coverage, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Brooke Sager is a contributing writer for Thrillist whose favorite season is “eat and drink outside” season. Writing this story made her both tipsy and hungry. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.