3 best wine and food pairings for a BBQ

Judith Papesh, Wine Educator
Lifestyle grey Dot

We’ve got three of our best wine and food pairing options for you just in case you need a little inspiration to fire up the coals


Summer still has plenty of long days and heat left that merit a visit to the grill. Its no secret that the BBQ is the place to escape summer’s steamy kitchen and enjoy the wide variety of flavors and textures of almost anything cooked over fire.

Grilled Porterhouse steak and Cabernet Sauvignon

The BBQ offers a great opportunity to bring out those big red wines that may have taken a back seat to the lighter, refreshing wines that come with the lighter dishes of summer. Toss this life line out for your big red loving friends glumly expecting another dinner with just rose.

A Porterhouse steak is the perfect meat for the grill with an affinity for smoky flavors and rich marbled fats that keep the meat moist and flavorful. Comprised of two separate cuts, the tenderloin and strip steak, its best simply seasoned and cooked quickly over high heat as in Bistecca Fiorentina.

Those bold flavors deserve a bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon whose tannins moderate the fats from the steak and enhance the meaty flavors.  Washington state is known for powerful Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe black fruits, excellent structure, bold tannins, and bright acidity that will bring out the best with this steak.

Marinated and grilled chicken fajitas with Chardonnay

White meats like chicken are the ultimate in flexibility for wine pairing whether grilled with a variety of herbs and spices, marinated, or basted during cooking with a spicy, smokey BBQ sauce. For a twist on chicken fajitas skip the skillet and cook the marinated chicken on the grill before adding it back to the pan with the onions and peppers. That smokey char flavors from the grill will add a new dimension to this outstanding recipe.

We really do love chicken that has been marinated and grilled and we are going with a crisp Chardonnay with its fruity notes and acidity to both cut and complement the spicy elements of the marinade.

Grilled salad of stone fruits and blue cheese with Pinot Grigio pet nat

You might not think of fruit at the BBQ, but grilled stone fruits like nectarines provide a sweet, slightly smoked flavor with caramelized fruit sugars that provide an exotic complement to a creamy, lighter blue cheese option like Cambozola.  The combination of creamy blue cheese and caramelized fruit are sweet, savory, tangy and salty all at once! Best served on a salad green like arugula, we like a sparkling wine like a Pinot Gris pet nat. The high acidity and effervescence cut through the creaminess of the cheese and the light fruity flavors are perfect with the caramelized nectarines.

Get maximum enjoyment at the end of summer by trying our recipes or enjoying an old favorite.

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About Judith Papesh, Wine Educator

Retired Winemaker, Winemaking Consultant, and Washington State Licensed Geologist. Bourgogne Master Level Certification, French, Italian, and Spanish Wine Scholar Certifications

In the first class to complete Washington State University (WSU) Extension Enology Certification, Judith opened her winery, crafting wines that garnered local and international acclaim before turning her attention to studying and educating about the world's wines. "Winemaking is very much an art as well as a science; it is a consuming passion that drives you during the day, keeps you up at night, and when the wine is right, simply leaves you breathless."