Best Beers and Wines for Barbecues

Kansas City Style RibsKansas City Style RibsIf you celebrate Memorial Day -- and the unofficial arrival of summer -- with a big cookout or picnic, you're going to need something to drink with all that grilled deliciousness. Aside from a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade, you could just pick up any old beer or box of wine and be done with it. But with just a little bit more effort, and a few guidelines for finding a suitable match, you can make that brisket you've been lovingly tending for the last 12 hours taste even better.

Without getting too detailed (it's summer -- who wants complicated?):
- Delicate foods are natural partners with lighter style beers and wines; the opposite is true as well.
- Bubbles are great palate cleansers and are terrific with fatty foods.
- Beverages with a hint of sweetness tend to go well with spicier foods.
- Bitterness can be refreshing and is a good foil for rich foods.

Related: 4 Easy Ways to Keep Beer from Going Flat

Of course, if you know you love drinking champagne with everything from popcorn to pizza, then go for it! Otherwise, below are some suggestions, simplified. (Where the style of wine or beer might be unfamiliar, I've given examples.)

With salads and light seafood dishes (like our Grilled Shrimp Salad)
Beer: Lightweight, citrusy wheat beers (e.g., Sam Adams White Lantern, Anchor Summer Beer)
Wine: Refreshing whites with some acidity, like sauvignon blancs or dry rieslings (e.g., Leitz Dragonstone Riesling)

With fried chicken, grilled sausage, potato chips
Beer: Moderately bitter amber lagers, with a hint of caramel flavor, or crisp, yeasty, bracing European pilsners (e.g., Brooklyn Lager or Pilsner Urquell)
Wine: Crisp, dry sparkling whites, like Spanish cavas or Italian proseccos (e.g. Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava or Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco)

Related: Summer Grilling Cookbook

With burgers, grilled chicken, grilled salmon
Beer: Moderately bitter and fruity pale ale. Pale ale also goes great with guacamole (e.g. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
Wine: Dry, fruity rosés or lightweight, juicy red Beaujolais (e.g. Las Rocas Rosé or Georges du Boeuf Beaujolais Villages)

With BBQ ribs (like our Kansas City Style Ribs) or brisket, or grilled steaks
Beer: Rich, caramel-y, moderately bitter amber ales (e.g. Sixpoint Brownstone)
Wine: (If the sauce isn't very sweet) Full-flavored syrah, or spicy red zinfandels for any of the above, Argentinian malbecs with the steak

- By Catherine Lo

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