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Food & Wine Pairing - BBQ

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and BBQ meats is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with BBQ Meats

Basking in the aromas of BBQ’d specialties of the house. With spice rubs and a profusion of sauces to fill the air, it’s no wonder we’re drawn to the barbecue like bees to honey.

But the grill serves up such a wide range of treasures that pairing them with wine can be seen either as a challenge or an overture to your imagination. Driven by flavour accents from sauce and spice, each grilled meat conjures up different flavour profiles. Luckily, the spirit of outdoor dining, including the tendency to serve lighter beverages, simplifies the choice.

Sparkling Wine – beat the heat and play well with almost any grilled food. Stick to the quaffable wines like Prosecco or Cava, or maybe a light-bodied Prosecco, and leave the vintage Champagne in the cellar.
White Wine – are clearly suited to grilled fish and chicken, and some pork recipes, even those that call for blackened preparations or spice rubs. The high acidity in Sauvignon Blanc, or a cool Sancerre pairs perfectly in this role. Choose a white Burgundy or another Chardonnay for the fattier fish, like tuna, trout, or rockfish. Chardonnay’s also the best pick for veggie burgers, and sometimes regular hamburgers that have a mushroom sauce.
Rosé – there’s no question that rosés add lift and ‘spirit’ to casual outdoor gatherings. Served brisk and cool, these wines have a bit more acidity than white wines to battle the grilled flavours of the food. Among the easy favourites in this category are Bandol from Provence, Tavel from the Rhône Valley, and some interesting rosé experiments in Italy made from the Sangiovese grape.
Red Wine – when pork or salmon is on the menu, Pinot Noir from  Oregon, the Russian River Valley or Burgundy—is best. The richer flavours rely on the Pinot Noir for weight and texture though they would get blotted out by heavier wines like Cabernet, Petit Syrah, or Barolo. Smoked meats—especially those with a bacon accent are also best served with Pinot Noir, playing off the smoky, tea-leaf flavours of the wine. you’re serving hamburgers, steak, barbecued ribs, or beef tenderloin, only the big red wines will do.
Bordeaux, California Cabernet, and Barolo are perfect matches, but if the spice turns the dish hot, zero in on Zinfandel or a similarly spicy Aussie Shiraz or Argentine Malbec.
The key to successful wine-food pairing for outdoor dining is simplicity. Don’t choose a wine that requires too much thought because the setting doesn’t call for that. The wines should fit the food, but they should also fit the casual mood of the gathering.

1. Braai (South Africa) – South Africa’s barbecue is locally known as Braai. You can easily do this leisurely affair by getting a 40-gallon steel oil drum, cut it in half lengthwise to house the firewood, and cover with a piece of tight cross-mesh metal where you put anything you want to cook. The meat and the spices used depends on the region and could range from chicken wings with peanut butter and apricot jam.

2. Jerk (Jamaica) – Jerk is a Jamaican cooking style where the meat is dry-rubbed or wet-marinated with Jamaican Jerk spice. This hot spice is a mixture of (get ready for it) onion flakes, thyme, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, hot pepper flakes, cumin, garlic powder, salt, nutmeg, sugar, and chives. Traditionally, Jerk spice is rubbed all over chicken and pork, but it also matches well with seafood like fish, shrimp, and shellfish, or even with beef, sausage, lamb, and tofu.

3. Chuanr (China) – Chuanr is a popular street food in China that originated in the Xinjiang province of China, brought by Uyghur people and other Chinese Muslims as a part of their Chinese Islamic cuisine. Chuanr is basically skewered small pieces of meat spiced with cumin, sesame oil, and dried pepper flakes; and roasted over charcoal. Lamb was the traditional meat used in cooking Chuanr but now other types of meat are proving popular.

4. Char Siu (Hong Kong) – Sticky, sweet, and savoury: that’s how we describe a well-marinated and well-cooked char siu that’s often seen hanging in front of Chinese barbecue restaurants. When cooking char siu, long strips of boneless pork seasoned with five-spice powder, honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and red food colouring are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over fire. Pork cuts usually used in char siu are loin, belly, butt, fat, and neck.

5. Bulgogi (South Korea) – Bulgogi is beef marinated in soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper, pears, and can also be mixed with scallions, ginger, onions, and white button mushrooms to enhance the meat’s flavour and tenderness. The marinated beef is then grilled on gridirons together with green peppers and garlic. When cooked, the beef can be eaten as is or wrapped inside leafy vegetables like lettuce and perilla leaves, with garlic and a paste called Ssamjang.

6. Yakiniku (Japan) – Yakiniku originally referred to western barbecue and later to the Korean-derived cuisine that was divided into North Korean and South Korean. Today, yakiniku refers to the Japanese style of cooking meat and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over flame of wood charcoals. The meat used for yakiniku isn’t marinated but a special sauce called tare (made of soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, garlic, fruit juice, and sesame seeds) is used instead as the dipping sauce for the grilled meat and vegetables.

7. Satay (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia) – Satay, although the taste and the choice of meat can differ depending on the region, is usually seasoned, skewered, grilled, and served with sauce.  The sauce well-known to people when you say satay (or sate) is the peanut sauce which is a mixture of peanuts, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, and chilies. The difference that you might notice (or not) in each of the Southeast Asian countries’ satays is the marinade used. One of these differences is the use of coconut milk and fish sauce in Thai satays unlike its other counterparts.

8. Lechon (Spain, Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico) – Lechon is a roasted whole pig slowly cooked over charcoal heat. It’s a national dish for the Philippines and Puerto Rico, and a popular dish for the other Spanish-speaking regions in Latin America. Though popular in many countries, the roasted pig’s taste still varies depending on the country. One example is Cebu’s (Philippines) version which uses lemongrass, leeks, salt, pepper, and garlic stuffing inside the pork’s belly.

9. Khorkhog (Mongolia) – Khorkhog is a tasty dish done by cooking sheep meat with vegetables and heated stones inside a closed container. The container with the meat, vegetables, and stones is filled with water, locked in the container, and placed inside the stove. When cooked, the stones get a nice glossy black colour. These are cooled down and handed out to the guests for them to rub their hands on to get the stone’s healing effects.

10. Tandoori Chicken (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) – Tandoori chicken is marinated chicken meat cooked over an intense fire in a tandoor, a clay oven in which hot fire is built.  The chicken is marinated first in yogurt and seasoned with a spice called tandoori masala (mixture of garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper). The marinated meat is skewered and placed inside the clay pot, allowing it to cook under the smoky and extremely hot environment.

11. Souvlaki (Mediterranean) – Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of skewered meat and vegetables, just like a kebab. Pork is usually used as the meat, but chicken, lamb, beef, and sometimes fish can be used too. The meat is first marinated in lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. After marinating, the meat is skewered and grilled. After cooking, it can be served on a skewer or inside a pita sandwich, along with a salad and the yogurt-based Tzatziki sauce.

12. Shashlik (Russia) – Every summer, Russian social gatherings won’t be complete without the popular shashlik. Traditionally, shashlik is prepared with lamb marinated in either vinegar or lemon juice. However, you can also use chicken, beef, and pork as the meat for the skewers.

13. Kebab (Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, South Asia) – And the world of barbecue won’t be complete without the famous kebabs. To make a kebab, pieces of meat, fish, and vegetables are skewered and either roasted or grilled. Depending on the country in which you’re getting that juicy kebab, a skewer can be served with pitta bread, with saffron basmati rice, in bowls, or in sandwiches. Sometimes, ground meat is used when cooking kebab.

14. Carne Asada (Mexico) – Carne Asada is the thinly sliced, grilled beef served so often in tacos and burritos. It can be served as it is or even with rice, guacamole, salsa, grilled onions, and beans on the side. Typically, the beef is made from flank steak or skirt steak. It can be marinated in lemon and pepper, or garlic, salt, and lime.

15. Asado (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) – The national dish of Argentina and Uruguay, asado can also be used referring to a range of barbecuing techniques and a social gathering – with the barbecue of course, as the main star of the event. An asado may consist of embutidos (chorizos, black puddings, and the like) and varieties of meat grilled over charcoal made of native trees. The meat cooked for asado is not marinated but only salted.

16. Churrasco (Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua) – When in Brazil (or in any other countries in Latin America), eating in a Churrascaria is highly recommended to have a feel on the local food scene. A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco-style which basically means barbecue. Regular beef cuts are marinated in lime or lemon juice mixed with garlic for hours, later seasoned with salt, skewered and grilled over charcoal. Other types of meat like pork, chicken, and sausage can also be cooked.

Go from a humble BBQ lover to a verified BBQ connoisseur.

A Guide to Popular Meats to BBQ

When it comes to firing up the grill, sausages and burgers are almost everybody’s first choice. It’s hard to beat a sausage in a roll with some caramelised onions or a flame grilled burger with all the little extras.

Today we take the time to go over what we think are the finest cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb for the BBQ. These are certified crowd pleasers at any BBQ…

A good cooking method for a Tomahawk is a reverse sear. First, cook it slowly in either the oven or indirectly on the BBQ. This will get the meat up to temperature slowly and ensure the inside is cooked to your preference. When it’s almost how you like it, finish it over some hot coals or on the grill for that amazing smokey BBQ flavour. A simple seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic is sufficient for such a flavourful cut of meat.

While a char-grilled chicken breast is hard to beat, the chicken thigh meat is arguably the best part of the chicken. They are packed with flavour, tender and succulent when cooked correctly. If you have been making chicken skewers with chicken breast, then you have to give boneless chicken thighs a go.

Skin on, bone-in chicken thighs are amazing simply grilled over lumpwood charcoal with a little lemon, herb and spices. Also, they’re fantastic cooked slowly on a skewer too. Go for the Greek style with olive oil and herbs or marinade them in yogurt, lemon, smoke paprika, garlic, rosemary and thyme for an extra edge! There’s few finer things in life than a delicious home-made chicken kebab with that distinctive charcoal flavour.

Minted lamb chops are spectacular when grilled on the BBQ. Get the BBQ nice and hot and give them a few minutes each size over the coals. Once the colour starts to go dark and the fat starts to go golden and a little charred, you’re in business!

When you think of a leg of lamb, you probably think of a Sunday roast. It’s a huge lump of meat that ordinarily would take far too long to cook. If you want it BBQ ready though – butterfly the leg of lamb and remove the bone and cut it so it’s an even depth all over so it cooks through perfectly on the BBQ. 

Pulled Pork is still a big food trend and for good reason – it’s delicious. What you need to make a good pulled pork is the right amount of fat in the meat so it melts away and pulls beautifully when slow cooked on the BBQ. It is the pork shoulder part of the animal. Removing the skin and leaving the bone in makes it perfect for making a pulled pork feast. A good quality BBQ sauce, homemade slaw inside a brioche bun – heavenly!

A BBQ classic – pork ribs. Full racks of baby back ribs already sauced and ready to go. These can be cooked hot and fast on the BBQ and will taste great but if you want something truly special, slow cook them using the 3-2-1 method. 3 hours on the BBQ alongside some smoking chips or wood, 2 hours wrapped up in foil or butchers paper and then sauced up and set the glaze for an hour. They will simply just melt.

Certainly one of the more adventure cuts of meat are Beef ribs are the perfect piece of meat for slow cooking thanks to the excellent fat content and the bone. When cooked low and slow on the BBQ they are divine.

Unlike pork ribs, beef ribs have a huge chunk of meat on them. Using smoking chips and a good dry rub will give the beef ribs a lot of flavour. 3 hours smoking and 3 hours wrapped in foil is a reliable method for the beef rib. Before you wrap them, tip in some liquid to let them braise for extra flavour. 

A beef brisket is a really difficult piece of meat to get right on the BBQ and depending on size, it takes a long time to cook. If you’re going to tackle it, be prepared for either an all nighter or a very early morning to get in cooked in time for dinner!

Like the pork shoulder a beef brisket is the shoulder part of the animal. In the UK our cows are mostly grass fed which means they’re far leaner than American grain fed brisket. For this reason, a UK brisket doesn’t turn out as succulent and juicy as those from across the pond. With that said, the flavour is still fantastic.

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