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Wine Pairings for Grill Season

Wine Pairings for Grill Season

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It’s that time of year again — my favorite time — where we break out the grill, clean it off and fire it up! I’m always thinking about what I’m going to grill first, whether I should use charcoal or cedar or applewood, who I’m going to invite over and how much fun we’re going to have.

A lot of people assume that as a master sommelier I only drink really rare, really expensive wines. The kind of wines that aren’t accessible to everyone or that are a well-kept secret reserved only for those “in the know.” This is far from the truth! Many of my favorite wines are simple, classic, and available at most wine stores. Below are a few of my favorite wines to go with BBQ deliciousness!

One of my favorite summertime grilling items is oysters Rockefeller. I take half-shell oysters with some diced tomatoes, a bit of garlic butter, and a smoked bacon chip and grill it on the shell side. This gives an incredible umami flavor of sea salt, smoke, tomato acidity, and rich butter finished with crisp bacon texture! I love to pair this with Bordeaux blanc. Its zesty pink grapefruit and Meyer lemon, rounded out with a touch of oak, gives this wine a cream soda affect, and it really highlights the smoke, the sea, and cuts through the butter.

Rueda Verdejo is an excellent companion to grilled seafood, especially prawns. The sweet flesh of the prawn, finished with just a spritz of orange zest and maybe a sprinkle of sea salt, complements the lemon and citrus flavors of the Verdejo, and the old vine salty minerality ties in seamlessly with the flavors of the sea, creating a very refreshing match!

No cookout is complete without grilled meat (sorry, vegetarians). Take a well-marbled, bone-in pasture raised ribeye, dust it with salt and pepper, and throw it on the grill. Just before it’s about to be done throw some rosemary on the coals to help give flavor. Pair this with a rich Châteauneuf-du-Pape! The syrah in the blend gives smoke and olive notes, and the grenache provides white pepper and baked cherry. The growing region is surrounded by wild lavender and rosemary, which will show up in the wine!

And, of course, if you’re entertaining, the all-American burger is always welcome. I find that the best wine to pair with grilled burgers is zinfandel. I like a zinfandel from higher elevation that is well balanced and complex. No matter what toppings you like on your burger — cheese, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, jalapeños — Zinfandel works wonders. Its fruit cobbler flavors run the gamut from tart cranberry to dried plum, and it’s usually touched with a kiss of oak that rounds it all out. You can’t get more all-American than that!

And for dessert, nothing is better than Girl Scout Cookies! Admit it… they’re everyone’s kryptonite. Personally, I’m a big fan of Samoas. It’s a crisp cookie coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut, and striped with dark chocolaty coating. Samoas pair really well with Ribera del Duero tempranillo. The dark berry flavors in the wine are a natural complement to the chocolate, and it’s aged in American oak, which can impart light flavors like coconut and dill.

Hy-Vee Recipes and Ideas

A well-paired wine can make any meal more memorable. Learn how to complement your grilling with red wine, white wine, and rosés with help from the Wine & Spirits experts at Hy-Vee.

Lighter bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir, are prized as sipping wines but can also work well with lighter fare like turkey or pork.

Medium bodied reds, such as Malbec or Merlot, are extremely versatile and will match a variety of foods.

Fuller bodied reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, can be bold and rich. They pair well with beef or lamb.

Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

An approachable blend with aromas of rich, dark fruits and baking spices, pair Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon with smoked meats and hard cheeses.

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon

Pair the Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon berry and spice flavors with steak and bold cheese.

Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

The velvety tannins of Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon go well with steak, lamb, and roasts.

Meiomi Pinot Noir

Meiomi Pinot Noir is aged for 6 months in French oak barrels, creating notes of berries and toasted mocha. Try it with brats and pork chops.


Light, crisp, and dry whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio are perfect for seafood and salads.

Fuller bodied whites, like Viognier and Chardonnay, are great for pairing with poultry and pork.

Sweeter whites, like most Rieslings and Moscato d'Asti, work well with fruity desserts like grilled peaches.

Joel Gott Pinot Gris

The subtle tropical flavors of Joel Gott Pinot Gris go well with poultry, shrimp, and salads.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough is fresh and juicy with ripe fruit flavors. Sip it alongside grilled fish, veggies, and salad.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay

The citrus notes of Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay will bring out the flavors of your grilled chicken, turkey, and salmon.

Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay

As you enjoy your chicken, lobster, and cream sauces, taste the creamy peach and pear flavors of this white wine.


Rosé wines can be sweet or dry, still or sparkling.

Tavel rosé is a dried style but fuller bodied and a great match for slightly bolder food pairings.

Sweeter styles, like White Zinfandel or Pink Moscato, appeal to the sweet tooth.

Apothic Rosé

With notes of strawberry and raspberry, this wine is best enjoyed with tuna, salmon, and poultry.

Gerard Bertrand Cote de Rosé

This wine's fresh flower aromas go great with fresh cheeses, salads, and seafood.

Hy-Vee Recipes and Ideas

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Discover the beers and wines that make grilling so great.

Peppercorn Rib Eye Steaks

Pair this juicy steak with an Aperican IPA or Malbec wine.

Mediterranean Vegetable Stack

These grill charred vegetables are a perfect match for German Schwartzbier beer or a French Pinot Noir wine.

Grilled Coffee-Marinated Pork Chops

This espresso-marinated coffee pairs well with a Black IPA beer or Zinfandel wine.

New York Strips with Steakhouse Toppers

Get the entire steakhouse experience including beer and wine pairings. Pair with an Amber Ale or Cabernet wine.

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

Minimize the heat by pairing with Oktoberfest, Dunkel, Bock, or an IPA. For wines, we suggest a Sauvignon Blanc or Rose.

Grilled Molasses Pork Ribs

Enjoy these sweet and sticky ribs with a bottle of American Amber beer or glass of Pinot Noir wine.

Grilled Scallop and Fruit Kabobs

Enjoy these sweet kabobs with a Pale Ale beer or glass of Rose wine.

Honey Sesame Seed Grilled Chicken

Bring out the sweetness of this chicken with a Light Lager, Belgium Witbier or American Wheat Ale. Or pair with Pouilly-Fume, Riesling, or Chardonnay wine.

Peppered Beef Kabobs with Blue Cheese Sauce

Pair with an IPA or accentuate the steak and sauce by pairing with a Merlot Wine.

Hyvee Culinary Expert Tip
Eric Dodge Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits Manager, Waterloo, IA, Certified Cicerone, Beer Steward

Chipotle-Orange Chicken and Vegetable Strips

This smokey sweet flavor pairs well with a Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, or American Pale Lager. Or Reisling, Chablis or Chardonnay wine.

Hot and Spicy Grilled Pork Chops

Tone down the heat by pairing this pork chop with a Belgain Saison wine or New Zeland Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Chili-Rubbed Salmon Fillets

Pair this flavorful chili-rubbed salmon with a wheat beer or Moscato wine.

Grilled Hawaiian Volcano Pizza

The sweetness of the pineapple and savoriness of the pork taste delicious with an American Pale Ale or Torrontes wine.

Grilled Romaine with Red Root Vegetables

The goat cheese in this salad pairs with an American Wheat beer or Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Grilled Salmon BLTs

This salmon and bacon sandwich pairs perfectly with a Lager or Pinot Noir wine.

Wine Brine

This brine today is a little different than a basic brine because I added a bottle of white wine to it. I made it for the Recipe Redux theme of cooking with alcohol. (Please, scroll below to see the other great recipes in this month&rsquos Redux!) Here was my thinking, wine and other alcohols apparently makes food taste better. Or at least that&rsquos what Sara Moulton said at IACP a few years ago. It like bonds to our taste receptors and makes it so that you can taste the other flavors in the food. Or at least that is what I remember her saying&hellip something like that. So after experimenting with this wine brine, and loving the heck out of the results, it is my guess that the brine forced the alcohol into the chicken. I don&rsquot know for sure, this is pure conjecture, but I do know that the resulting juicy as heck chicken is so incredibly good. I kept thinking that it was like the winey, briney cousin of marinade in a way.

The first night we had it with a sautéed mushrooms. Oh, my goodness! Love! Love! Love! I love the way the rosemary in the brine comes through with all of these savory flavors. And if you really want to hit a complete dinner home run serve it with The Best Homemade Potato Salad by Meaningful Eats. It&rsquos gluten free too!

Now that I know wine is so magical in brine, I want to try it with other meats and wines. What do you think would be a good combination?

More Grilled Chicken

All Day I Dream About Food | Not grilled but totally yummy and summery looking: Easy Low Carb Caprese Chicken

Argentinean Barbecued Steak


  • 3 pounds skirt steak
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Chimichurri Sauce, recipe follows

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat your grill to high or preheat a ridged grill pan until very hot.
  2. Rub the steaks with the olive oil and season them with salt. Grill the steaks for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for a medium-rare to medium, or longer for medium-well or well done. Serve with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce:

  1. To make the Chimichurri, place the vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and garlic in a blender and puree. With the motor running, add the olive oil, blending until the sauce comes together. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe from Ingrid Hoffmann courtesy of

Grilled Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon Pairing

It’s a well known fact that Cabernet Sauvignon is a favorite of the culinary world as it’s unique tannic structure and red- and black-fruit flavors make this wine perfect for pairing with all types of dishes. However, this bold red doesn’t pair with anything quite like it pairs with steak.

Why it works: “A classic style of Cabernet Sauvignon showcases deep, dark cherry fruit with chewy tannins, followed by coffee and chocolate on the finish,” says Regan Jasper, brand sommelier for True Food Kitchen. “It acts as a frame, melding with the earthy, gamey tones of the beef, while the salsa verde freshens up the pairing.”

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons capers, rinsed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon good quality sea salt, plus extra
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1½ pounds grass-fed beef flap meat, trimmed and cut into four portions
  • Fresh black pepper

Combine parsley, cilantro, fennel, vinegar, capers, anchovy paste, garlic, chili flakes, salt and ¾ cup of oil in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. Salsa can be made one day ahead. Refrigerate in a covered container.

Season steak with salt and pepper. Gently toss with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, coating evenly. Sear on hot grill for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook 1–2 minutes. Using instant-read thermometer, cook to internal temperature of 110°F, about medium-rare. Transfer to serving platter. Drizzle with salsa verde. Serves 4.

Vina Robles 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles) $26, 92 points. This bottling exhibits the richness that’s made Paso Robles famous, yet at a price point that’s great for frequent indulgence. Inky in the glass, the bottling’s lush nose offers concentrated black cherry, caramel, cocoa and coffee. It’s soft and smooth on the palate, where the black-cherry compote flavors are lifted by star anise and clove. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann

Wine Pairings for Grill Season - Recipes

Barbecue season is an amazing way to meet up with your friends and family, spend some quality time together, and show off your excellent cooking skills. It’s also a great time to show off your skills for selecting perfect wine pairings.

While preparing the food is not usually a big deal, choosing something that will go well with the wine can end up being quite challenging. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got your back!

Red Wine Pairings

Many people know that red wine pairs best with meat and white wine – with fish. However, that’s not enough if you want to impress someone. Instead, you should learn about pairing Pinot Noir with mushrooms and Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled lamb chops. Read on, and discover more interesting wine pairings for your perfect barbecue!

Cabernet Sauvignon

You probably know that red wine goes best with meat, but it is a common mistake to think that this means you should serve a Cabernet Sauvignon with your steak. Instead, this red variety pairs great with lamb chops. A well-marbled cut will be your best choice.

Once the meat is properly cooked, the wine can be brought to the table to complement the meal. Red wine is not the only option, though! You can also serve a New Zealand sauvignon blanc or an Australian shiraz.

Pinot Noir

If you want to go for a more high-end option, you can pair almost any Pinot Noir type with any kind of mushroom dish and salmon. However, remember to use this wine in moderation since it tends to be much more expensive than some other types of red wine.


When it comes to pairing red wines, there are many options to choose from, but Merlot might be the best choice when it comes to grilled meats and poultry. It has a smooth, gentle taste that makes it appropriate for even inexperienced wine drinkers. Try pairing Merlot with chicken or turkey breast and enjoy the results!

You might like: Beautiful hand made Cornet Barcelona wine glasses

Red Zinfandel

Pairing your red zin with most grilled meats works well, but the best results are achieved when you use it to complement a steak dish. If you want to impress someone who already knows a thing or two about wine, you can try pairing your red zin with lobster!


As far as red wines are concerned, Pinotage is unique because it was actually created in South Africa in the early 20th century by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes. It has a deep flavor and goes well with all kinds of grilled meats and poultry but also works perfectly alongside pizza and pasta.

White Wine Pairings


When you’re stuck trying to figure out what kind of white wine goes well with seafood, just remember that Chardonnay is a good choice for almost any kind of seafood you can think of. And since it also goes well with cheese, you have an excellent excuse to serve it together with an appetizer at the next dinner party at your house!

Sauvignon Blanc

The versatility of this light and fruity white wine is one of its biggest advantages. You can serve this wine with fish, seafood, chicken, or even steak. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t go well with aged beef.


This sweet white wine is especially popular during the summer season because it goes really well with lighter meals, such as those based on fruits or vegetables. Pairing Riesling with grilled prawns is not a bad idea, either.

Try pairing it with roasted pineapple and nuts or even gingerbread cookies if you want to try something different. For best results, keep it on the ice at all times and serve it chilled.

White Zinfandel

This sweet white wine goes really well with fresh fruit, so it’s no wonder that it’s perfect for the summer season. It is also worth mentioning that pairing white zinfandel with prawns, mussels, and other types of seafood is a great idea, too!

As you can see, there are quite a few wine pairings that you can choose from for barbeque season. For instance, if you want to serve steak dishes, Red Zin or Merlot are your best bets. On the other hand, if you really want to surprise your guests with seafood, you should go for White Zinfandel instead.

In the end, if you are not sure which wine you should choose, going for the one that you have always liked best is always a viable option. After all, you already know how it tastes, which will make you feel confident with your choice.

Recipes & Pairings

Due to its location inside of Castilla y Leon – the breadbasket of Spain, Ribera del Duero’s culinary heritage is vast and varied. Lamb and anything off the grill play a vital role in many of the area’s famous preparations. Some of our best memories of visits to Ribera are all about impromptu vineyard bbq’s with lamb grilled over vine cuttings. In fact, Lechazo (roasted suckling lamb) from the region has its own protected designation [&hellip]

Mojo Verde Sandwiches

Simplicity and pristine ingredients are important elements in many of Spain’s most famous dishes, and we love how this concept is carried through in Chef April’s mojo verde sandwich. It’s the perfect marriage of sophistication and simplicity. Get the best bread you can find –it’s the secret to a memorable sandwich. If you don’t have [&hellip]

General Chin’s Chicken

Chopped Champion and Chef, Lanny Chin brings us a perfect Rueda pairing with his very own General Chin’s Chicken. We love the addition of sambol (also referred to as sambal oelek), it reminds us of relaxed meals in Indonesia. Mixed with honey and fresh lime juice, it creates the ideal spicy and sweet combination. A [&hellip]

Queso & Birria Tacos

This tasty recipe (and ultimate comfort dish!) from Chef Rosana Rivera was chosen as one of the grand prize winners of the RyR Pairing Challenge with Chef’s Roll. Based in Tampa and the winner of season 22 of Beat Bobby Flay, Chef Rosana Rivera developed this delicious dish as a custom pairing to highlight the [&hellip]

Seared Scallops with Nantua sauce, Fennel, Escabeche and Manchego

Chef Joseph Martinez, Chef de Cuisine at Silo Terrance Oyster Bar in San Antonio, Texas created this mouthwatering scallop recipe as a custom pairing for crisp Rueda Verdejo wines. It’s so delicious that he beat out dozens of competitors to become one of the grand prize winners in our nationwide Chef’s Roll RyR Pairing Challenge. [&hellip]

Mushroom, Bacon + Pumpkin Rice Bowl

With rice as your base, your flavor builds are endless! In this recipe, crispy bacon, earthy mushrooms and pumpkin adds a savory twist to your traditional grain. Serve as a side dish or add some protein for a filling grain bowl. Enjoy with a glass of Ribera Tempranillo bit a bit of aging to complement [&hellip]

Croquetas de Pollo con Cúrcuma (Turmeric Chicken Croquettes)

Hello bite-sized pillows of delight! Crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, these Chicken Croquettes will be your new go-to appetizer or side dish for all gatherings. For the true Spanish experience, pour yourself a glass of a younger, fruit-forward Ribera Tempranillo, that is easy on the oak. You could also serve [&hellip]

Clams in Green Sauce

Description: Some of the best meals are the simplest and purest of flavors. Steamed sweet clams, a drizzle of fresh parsley sauce, spritz of bright lemon and a glassful of bone-dry stainless steel Rueda Verdejo – perfection. Select a Rueda with popping acidity for an inspired pairing that works with the umami in the clams. [&hellip]

Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings by Mary Cressler and Sean Martin

Ready to up your grilling game? This cookbook by a pitmaster and a sommelier will turn your backyard barbecue into the tastiest place to be–with recipes that celebrate smoked and grilled food (and the wines that pair best with them).

Every region has its barbecue, grill, and smoking food traditions. Now the Pacific Northwest can claim its place at the table with these recipes developed by sommelier Mary Cressler and pitmaster Sean Martin from Portland, Oregon. Not as sauce-dependent as Kansas City, not quite as beef-obsessed as Texas, these dishes bring the smoke to wild salmon, ribs and steaks, fresh apples, heirloom tomatoes, nuts and beans, and even chocolate pot de crème. Rubs and glazes draw on Northwest flavors such as soy sauce, rosemary, and wild blackberries. Whether the equipment at home is a basic kettle grill or a professional-grade outfit with an electric wood feeder, the instructions will turn even novices into masters of the grill. And true to the region, these recipes pair with wines such as pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon instead of the customary can of beer.

Related Items

Hamburgers + Beaujolais

Burgers are summer grilling staples, so it's only fitting that they pair with the number one summer barbecue wine: Beaujolais. Light, fresh, and fun, Beaujolais is extremely food-friendly. Expect peppy red cherry and strawberry flavors with a touch of earthy undertones.

Hot Dogs + Rosé

The toppings make the hot dog, so the key is to find a wine versatile enough to pair with anything you can eat on a dog. It's hard to go wrong with a dry rosé, but look for one with some character to it: minerality, acidity, or unique, savory flavors.

Grilled Corn + Chardonnay

Sweet, salty, buttery grilled corn needs a wine that will accent&mdashbut not overwhelm&mdashits flavors, which is why Chardonnay aged in steel or old oak is a natural match. Most unoaked Chardonnays still go through malolactic fermentation, which creates a creamy, buttery texture without oaky flavors of vanilla and baking spice (that would overwhelm the corn).

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