Wine Picks for Your Memorial Day Barbecue

May/27/2022 / by Camille Berry
memorial day
(Image credits: Shutterstock)

Memorial Day Weekend is here which means precisely one thing – it’s the start of barbecue season. No proper barbecue is complete without refreshments and while beer is great with a bit of ‘cue, you can’t beat a perfectly paired glass of wine. Whether you’re grilling fish, smoking meat, or cooking up some tasty vegetarian options, there are plenty of phenomenal wines to sip on while enjoying the long weekend. If you’re ready to get cooking, check out our top picks.

Barbecue Masala Chicken and Garnacha

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The French Grenache (Image credits: Shutterstock)

The key to successful food and wine pairing comes down to seasonings and marinades, and cooking methods, so if you’re grilling up some masala chicken, you’ll want to choose a wine that can hold up to the spices and that hot-off-the-grill char. While you might be tempted to pick up a bottle of white wine, consider going for red. Spanish Garnacha (which you may have encountered under its French name, Grenache) features ripe berry aromas, notes of baking spices, and wonderful minerality. If red wine isn’t your thing, Garnacha is also made into stunning rosés, which will be equally tasty with your grilled masala chicken.

Syrah Grilled Lamb 

Whether you’re grilling up chops or serving skewers this Memorial Day, lamb’s gamey flavors call for a powerful red. While there are plenty of fantastic ways to marinate lamb, no matter what you choose, a rich Syrah or Shiraz is a classic pairing that won’t steer you wrong. Full of dark fruit flavors, pepper, baking spice, and a savory herbal note, Syrah’s ripe fruit and smokey character will bring out the best in just about any grilled lamb dish. Fans of Spanish wines will find that Rioja is another exceptional pairing with lamb.

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A Sauvignon Blanc vineyard (Image credits: Shutterstock)

Grilled Fish with a Sauvignon Blanc

For more simple preparations like grilled tilapia or lime-cilantro prawn and veggie skewers, a bright, zesty Sauvignon Blanc will refresh your palate in between bites. With a dish like Kerala fish fry, you’ll want to embrace some of the more aromatic grape varieties out there. There are so many wonderful spices that go into the Kerala paste, and an aromatic white wine makes a stellar partner for the flavors in this dish. With its lychee, orange, and rose petal aromas and flavors, a dry Gewurztraminer is just the ticket.

For Dessert, Think Sweet

No Memorial Day is complete without a selection of sweets, and if you’re serving up dessert, reach for a late-harvest Riesling. Memorial Day desserts tend to be on the lighter side – fruity rather than chocolate-based. The heady peach, candied lemon zest, jasmine, and ginger notes coupled with bright acidity and luscious sweetness will play well with a variety of desserts from grilled fruits to halwa, fruit pies, tarts, cheesecakes, and more. If chocolate does crop up on your dessert menu, a late bottled vintage (LBV) port might be your best friend. Full of gorgeously ripe and dried dark fruits, nutmeg, and spice that finishes with a lush, smooth finish, LBV port is a must for anything chocolatey.

Happy grilling!

If you’re looking for more cookout (or cook-in) options for the holiday weekend, check out Summer Cookout (or Cook-In) Ideas for Memorial Day


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