Fall off the bone ribs can be made from beef or pork, but in terms of choosing a wine to drink with them, the sauce and spices matter the most. While there are a lot of variations in ribs, for the most part, the meat itself has a delicate and tender flavour. Big wines can overpower the long hours spent slow cooking your ribs, hence, you typically want wines that are fruity and with a bit of grippy tannin.
In terms of sauces, tomato-based sauces tend to be sweeter, so you want an acidic red, whilst dry rub ribs have spicy notes that are earthy, and thus an earthier red, like a Pinot Noir, is worth considering.
Zinfandel and Grilled BBQ Ribs
Perhaps the holy grail of pairing is Zinfandel and BBQ Beef Ribs. In this instance we are talking about Grilled ribs, which are cooked quickly over an open flame. Grilled meats have a charred and caramelized flavour. Rich and fruity, Zinfandel is sturdy enough to stand up to the assertive nature of the charred flavours of grilled ribs. The black cherry, plum and blackberry jam flavours are an amazing contrast to the grilled flavors of the BBQ ribs. Zinfandel also has a bright acidity to keep you feeling refreshed in the warm weather you may be enjoying your BBQ ribs in.
Baco Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc all make wonderful dance partners to grilled BBQ Ribs due to their body and fruity flavour. If you’re adding a bit of sauce to the ribs, Barbera and Doclectto have the right balance of acidity and tannin to hold up to the sauce, while not crushing the delicate meat flavours of the ribs.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is another wine worth considering. Often a blend of Grenache (chocolate and licorice flavours), Syrah (blackberry and black peppercorn) and mourvèdre (herbaceous), each varietal brings something different to the BBQ flavours.
Pinot Noir and Dry Rub Ribs
As mentioned above, dry rub ribs tend to have earthy notes, with a delicate and tender meaty flavour, due to hours of slow cooking. In this case, you don’t want a powerful fruit bomb like a Zinfandel. Instead, pair with earthier reds, like a Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir has an earthy undertone intertwined with a wild strawberry brightness. This bright acidity in Pinot Noir will lift the tender meat flavour while the earthy notes complement the spices used in the dry rub.
A peppery Petit Syrah or Syrah is another good choice with a dry rub.
White Wine and Ribs
For ribs slathered in sweet or spicy BBQ sauce, a white wine may be a better choice. Dry red wines will tend to clash with BBQ sauces turning the pairing into a metallic tasting mess. Our number one white wine choice with Ribs would have to be an off-dry Riesling. This dry, but slightly sweet white will clear the heavy sauce flavours out of your mouth, a brighten up the next bite.
Rosé, Prosecco, Cava, or sparkling wine are also excellent with saucy ribs due to their dry, but touch of sweet nature that makes each mouthful taste as fresh as the next. These wines won’t crush the tenderness of the meat that the chef worked so hard at creating.
Beer and Rib Pairing
Beer naturally goes well with BBQ ribs, or anything barbecued for that matter. You could pick any bottle or can off the shelf and you’d be set. For our favourite picks however, for saucy ribs with a bit of spice, we’d go Wheat Beer. This crisp and light beer makes for a refreshing palate cleanser.
For grilled bbq ribs with that caramelized flavour, we find that the roasted chocolate malt flavours in an English Porter are simply divine with the bbq flavour.
For ribs that are cooked for hours, then quickly grilled and glazed, we love Brown Ales. Brown Ales have a lightly roasted flavour that works well with the charred flavour, but also balancing out the sweetness from the glaze. Brown Ales tend to be a touch sweet, so it complements the sweetness of any sauce you slather on your ribs.