The desire to throw the perfect summer barbecue is in every amateur and professional griller. From start to finish, serving the ultimate meal that your friends will be raving about for years can be the highest form of praise a griller receives.
But even with the most tender, delicious cut of steak and the most carefully chosen and cooked sides, without the right beverage to complement your meal, you may find there is still something lacking.
It’s true – you have to match your drink selection with your meal, and many people pair wine and beer with barbecue as the definitive finishing touch.
So how do you know what drink to serve with what foods?
Barbecue and Beer or Wine – The Basics
It’s summer. The last thing anyone wants to do on those long, hot, lazy days is spend hours poring over menus and wine and beer lists to put their meal together. Instead, wouldn’t you rather learn some basic serving rules that work any time of year with any food and go with those?
When you are putting together your meal, there is so much to consider, from the appetizers and dessert to the length of time it will take to get your meats to just the right temperature (the right meat thermometer is crucial for this!).
Luckily, there are a few tried and true methods that can help you choose the right beverage to complement your food without a lot of thought involved.
Consider these general rules of thumb when you are putting together your next barbecue meal:
If you are serving spicy foods, pair them with a lightly sweet beer or wine.
Strong, robust flavors of wine and beer should be served with the same types of food.
Contrarily, light, delicate flavors of wine and beer go best with light and delicate foods.
Rich, heavy foods can use a bitter beer or wine to help offset the heaviness.
Ending a meal with a bubbly drink is a good way to pair up fatty foods.
Ready for a Little More Detail?
Once you have those basics down, you can hit any liquor aisle or store and find a bottle of wine or choice of beer to serve with your meal. But if you want something a little more involved to be sure your drink selection hits just the right note with your meal, we’ve got you covered there, too.
Most barbecues have the same categories of foods served, so if you are making any of the following dishes, we’ve given you a little more detail, and if that still isn’t what you need, you can check out this pairing chart for even more.
For stronger grilled meats like burgers, chicken, and richly flavored fish, serve a pale ale beer or a strong red wine (a Beaujolais is always a good choice).
Barbecue ribs are in a league of their own and need the right drink to finalize their perfection. Choose a rich, moderately bitter amber ale with a slight caramel touch to it, or a full-flavored or spicy wine.
Greasier foods like grilled sausage and potatoes need an amber lager with a caramel hint or a crisp, dry sparkling white wine.
Light seafoods like shrimp or scallops need a gentle, citrusy type of beer or a slightly acidic white wine.
Your Meal is Perfect, the Rest is Up to You
Now that you have matched the perfect complement of drink to your food, you can focus on your guests. No matter how good the food is going to be, you have to be a great host to keep them there for the meal!