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Which wine goes best with your barbecue food?

Whether you’re firing up the coals or cooking on gas, discover which white or red to drink with your al fresco dining

Which wine goes best with your barbecue food?

Wine expert Kathryn McWhirter has been writing about food and wine matching for decades.

Here, she shares some of her perfect pairings.

See all our best food and wine combos for lockdown dinner favourites, including pizza, curry, cottage pie, spag bol and more.



Sausages like the same wines as whatever meat they’re made from, but herbs and spices will make all the difference.

If flavoured with sage, go for sauvignon blanc or syrah/shiraz. Cumberland likes pinot noir. Pork and herb or pork and leek like carmenere. Toulouse goes for South African pinotage or Spanish rueda.

10 foods you didn’t know you could cook on the barbecue.


Pork is a promiscuous meat that goes with so many wines.

Beaujolais is brilliant, and syrah, shiraz and pinot noir are great, or an alentejo red from Portugal or chablis for a white.

Apple sauce won’t help the wine, unless you switch to German riesling.


Beef is also brilliant with wines from the gamay grape, such as beaujolais (beef doesn’t need a massive, beefy wine) as well as malbec, the touriga nacional grape of Portugal, southern Italian primitivo or red zinfandel.


Lamb likewise loves red grapes – garnacha and tempranillo, perhaps from rioja, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc (red bordeaux blends of these grapes too).

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Tuna when fresh is surprisingly good with red wines – try a not-too-oaky malbec, carmenere or syrah/shiraz, or, if you prefer white, a white a semillon, perhaps from Australia, or an Italian vernaccia.

See our full range of the best red wines.


Chicken is easy with lots of wines, but it’s super-fond of frascati, merlot and the sangiovese grape of Italy (the main variety in chianti).

Vegetables and salad

Vegetables often have a touch of natural sweetness, especially root vegetables.

They can go well with wines with a similar hint of sweetness – think inexpensive vinho verde or German riesling.

Whites tend to go better than reds, indeed some vegetables make red wines taste extra bitter – celery and spinach among others.

Best white wines from our taste tests.


Sweet peppers partner certain wines to perfection, both red and white.

You can add peppers, cooked or uncooked, to wow your household with your wine matching skills.

Peppers of all colours are a stunning match with (in whites) gewurztraminer, dry muscat and alvarinho/albarino, and red peppers are yummy with shiraz or beaujolais.

On a hot summer’s lockdown day, try sancerre or other sauvignons with a green pepper gazpacho soup, or go all Spanish with a bottle of verdejo or rueda.

Check out our pick of the best vegan wines.

Salad dressing

Dressings work with wine so long as they are not too acidic – add extra oil or choose a sharper wine such as vinho verde or muscadet.



If your wine choice trumps your craving for ketchup, it’s best to avoid the ketchup altogether, along with other sweetish, vinegary sauces.

Brown, tartare, chutney, BBQ and sweet chilli sauces, horseradish, wasabi and smooth, yellow English mustard all likewise make wines taste flat and boring.

Find out which tomato sauce was top when we compared ketchups.


Wholegrain and dijon mustards are friendlier to both red and white wines. Dijon mustard can magically make a tough red wine taste softer.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce makes little difference to the taste of wines, although like other salty foods it matches well with wines with higher acidity.

Five tips for successful outdoor sipping

  1. You’ll want an easy quaffer to drink while you wait, while you eat and while you chill around the grill.
  2. Whites and rosés are easy by nature, but some reds are too firm, too grippy to drink with pleasure on their own. How can you know how firm a wine will be? Well, inexpensive reds are likely to be softer, fruitier, easier, because they’re deliberately made for early drinking.
  3. Red grapes that generally make fruity, gentle, easy-drinking wines at reasonable prices include gamay, merlot and barbera.
  4. There’s an old saying that one pint in the sun is worth two in the shade. That definitely applies to wine too. For lower alcohol, look to cooler wine regions, including Germany, Northern Portugal, Northern Spain, England, the Loire in France, Tasmania, New Zealand, Patagonia, up mountains and by the coast.
  5. The antidote in the sunshine is plenty of water to stay hydrated.
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