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  • The Chopping Blog

Wine for BBQ

Mary Ross
Posted by Mary Ross on Aug 12, 2021


For international entertainment without needing a passport, try a world cuisine barbeque with wine.

Fire, food and wine have been part of our Western culinary consciousness practically since Western civilization began. Roman armies planted wine vines throughout Europe circa 27 B.C. for health more than for happy hour. After rampant death by food and water poisoning, legionnaires discovered that they lived longer when they added wine to water and soaked food in wine before cooking. We now know that wine marinades reduce both food spoilage and the carcinogens created as meats cook over flame.

Today, Chicagoland grills fire up recipes from around the world and – if you consider my Guidelines of Wine & Food – make for exciting wine pairings.

To begin: 

1. Don’t Fight Irresistible Logic 

The easiest trick of wine and food is to choose a regional recipe paired with wine the people of that region drink. In many cases, these pairings have been tested and tweaked for centuries by the region’s cooks and wine growers, who all want something tasty for dinner. Why fight it? 

Mangia Bene 

For an Italian festa, pair Bistecca Toscana (Red Wine Marinated Ribeye Steaks with Fresh Herb Sauce) with Tuscan red, such as Brunello or Chianti Classico. At The Chopping Block, we offer: 

Chianti Classico, Borgo Scopeto, Italy: A rich, polished red from Chianti’s classic zone, with dried black fruit, herb and white pepper flavors outlined by firm tannin. Serve with the richest poultry, pasta and vegetable dishes and all meats. 

Begin with a simple antipasto or a rich Shrimp Diavolo (Sautéed Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce) with Garlic Bread, demonstrated during our Italian Steakhouse Demonstration on Thursday, September 2 at 6:30pm

shrimp diavolo


2. Opposites Attract 

Another guideline in pairing wine with barbeque is to find complementary opposites. 

For spicy barbeque, avoid dry wine, which triggers 3-alarm palate-burn. Instead, choose a slightly sweeter wine which protects the palate, like a layer of asbestos. “Sugar and spice makes everything nice.” 

Barbecue’s juicy fat may be finger-lickin’ good, but it fatigues the palate. To unclog your palate (if not your arteries), choose wine with high acidity, which is generally grown in a cold climate. 

Oktoberfest in Your Backyard 

Riesling is considered one of the world’s greatest grapes because it offers both cooling fruit and refreshing acid. No surprise that it’s the perfect pairing for German grilled sausages like bratwurst. (Go ahead, serve that spicy mustard. Riesling can handle it!)

Grilled_Brats-1At TCB, choose: 

Riesling Spatlese, Huff, Germany: A classic Riesling, “late picked” for juicy peach flavor, mineral accents and refreshing tartness for a sweeter cocktail and complement to foods prepared with fruit, spice and/ or smoke.

As autumn approaches, watch our class calendar for more sessions of Prost! Hands-On German Feast on the Patio as this weekend's class is already sold out. 

Barabicu to Barbacoa to BBQ & Braai 

While techniques are ancient, the word ‘barbeque’ originated in the Caribbean, was transferred to Spain in the 1500’s, first recorded in English in 1661 and now sports its own multi-lingual monickers: BBQ in the UK and US; barbie in Australia; South Africans call theirs braai. 


3. Sweeter for the Sweets 

Caribbean barbeque sports spice, fat and sweetness, which turns dry wine bitter on your palate. Again, Riesling to the rescue, balancing the sweetness of tropical fruit and honey in island recipes. Or to lively up yourself, try Italy’s fabulous fizz, Lambrusco. 

Lambrusco di Castelvetro Amabile, Cleto Chiarli, Italy: Ripe berries and bitter-sweet chocolate flavors combine in this rich, red bubbly, with sweetness balanced by refreshing acidity. Pair with barbeque, grills, chocolate and good times. For drinkin’, not for thinkin’. 

See these wine and food pairings come to life in our upcoming Jamaican Grilling Demonstration on the Patio on Saturday, September 4 at 11am.

Jamaican Jerk ChickenAsado Chileno 

No-one does barbeque like South America, with asado grills of sizzling lamb, beef, chicken, chorizo, beef heart and other organ meats. To complement herbal seasonings such as Chimichurri, locals turn to their signature grape, Carmenere. 

Carmenere, Casa Silva, Chile: Chile’s plump and chewy signature red, with ripe fruit flavors and accents of meat, smoke and herbs. A natural for all grills and roasts, especially served with the herb sauce. 

Steak with Chimichurri and Red Wine

4. White Wine with Red Meat 

During my previous Food and Wine Pairing class, Carmenere was a hit with Steak with Two Sauces (Blue cheese and Italian Salsa Verde). 

But all guests agree that the big surprise came pairing steak with Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, a white with rich enough acid for red meat, a great alternative to red when the temperatures soars. 

Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz “MAX”, Chile: Dynamic and dry, combining fresh herbs and minerals, for a rich cocktail and complement to all dishes prepared with herbs, olive oil and/or goat cheese. 

Steak with White Wine

Test the Rules of Wine and Food Yourself 

On Friday, September 3rd, we’ll test the rules of wine and food in a mix-and-match of four wines with three courses. Join us on our outdoor patio at Lincoln Square to decide on wine and food rules of your own! Register now for Summer Food and Wine Pairing Demonstration on the Patio.

mary wine patioRegister now



Topics: wine classes, Wine, Grilling, grilling patio, grilling classes, Wine & Spirits, wine pairing, barbecue, food and wine pairing

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