Two people with drinks standing by the grill as it cooks meat

The Best Beers, Wines, and Cocktails to Pair with Grilling Recipes

Nothing beats the smoky, charred flavor of grilled meat. Every recipe has its own flavor profile that deserves to be highlighted by its own drink. Step up your grilling game this summer with these perfectly picked drink and meat pairings.

BBQ Pork Kebabs + Old Fashioned

BBQ pork skewers with charred peppers

The salty flavor and natural sweetness of a bbq pork kebab call for a bold drink pairing. While popular pairings include a medium-bodied wine or a flavorful light beer, we recommend a classic cocktail—the old fashioned. The smokiness of the bourbon matches the open-flame grill flavors, and the citrusy tang of orange balances out the pork’s sweetness. This is reliable pairing that will feel fresh and new.

Grilled Lobster Tails + Chardonnay

caribbean lobster tails

Grilled lobster is a seaside summer staple. The rich, buttery profile of lobster demands a pairing that will provide a refreshing balance. Chardonnay, or the “red of white wines,” has a crisp, dry profile with a substantial body. The buttery flavors of the wine, combined with the often oak-aged finish, make it an excellent companion to tender, Caribbean grilled lobster.

Trinidadian Chicken Thighs + New England Style IPA

buccaneer chicken thighs

Chicken thighs are known for their rich flavor and tender juiciness. When slow cooked over charcoal with a traditional shado beni green seasoning—like in this Trinidadian recipe—they are best joined by a hoppy, fruity beer from a higher latitude. The New England-style IPA is intentionally hazy and packed with citrus. It provides a creamy mouthfeel and bitter hop profile that helps amplify the smoky, herbal flavors of these grilled Caribbean chicken thighs.

Grilled Ribeye + Zinfandel

ribeye steak topped with pink Himalayan salt, peppercorn, and rosemary

Red meat and red wine are a known staple. However, when it comes to pairing certain cuts with specific grape varietals, it can get complicated. The ribeye, which comes from the center of the rib section, is a juicy, fatty cut that is often viewed as the Cadillac of steaks. Therefore, a bold steak needs a bold companion. While a Cabernet Sauvignon is a common pairing for a ribeye, we’d recommend the robust, fruit-forward zinfandel. This full-bodied red offers a subtle sweetness that will match the juicy meatiness of a grilled ribeye.

Burgers + Dry Hard Cider

three beef cheeseburgers with lettuce and tomato on board

The meaty, juiciness of a grilled burger finds an unlikely but memorable companion in a dry hard cider. The light sweetness of cider compliments the saltiness and crisp, charred exterior of a burger. Like with beer, the refreshing carbonation of the cider makes it an excellent way to finish off a grass-fed burger.

Grilled Sockeye + Dry Rosé

grilled salmon tomato and asparagus

Grilled sockeye is a summer delicacy. Given the richness of a salmon fillet, a light-bodied white wine doesn’t always do it justice. We recommend a clean, dry rosé. Rosé has the lightness of a white with the rich fruitiness of a red, and the slight acidic nature to this wine complements the dense, buttery profile of wild-caught sockeye.

littauer jonathan
Jonathan Littauer
Jonathan is a freelance writer/editor and rock climbing route-setter based in Boston, MA. When he’s not wielding words or making people fall off walls, he’s probably outside somewhere, hiking or climbing or surfing poorly. He’s been known, on occasion, to drop everything and travel the world for months at a time. Learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanlittauer.com.