Which Wines to Pair With Ribs?

While wine and cheese are two well-known combinations that any wine lover knows all too well, a growing number of wine fans are pairing their favorite vino with delicious ribs. There’s just something about how dripping-off-the-bone ribs combine with wine that keeps us coming back for more.

Red wines are particularly great for this meal, thanks to their rich tannins and high acidity. So, put on your best “Kiss the Cook” apron, get out your barbecue tongs, and get ready to make the best rib and wine combo ever!

Which Wines to Pair With Ribs

Grilled BBQ Ribs With Zinfandel

Which Wines to Pair With Ribs - Grilled BBQ Ribs
Grilled BBQ ribs go well with a California Zinfandel.

Grilled BBQ ribs are a classic dish for grill fans for many reasons. First, the delicious taste of grilled meat taps into our inner carnivores, as does tearing the meat off the bones with our teeth.

The fantastic combination of barbecue sauces available on the market also makes this an excellent dish that is hard to top, particularly when you pair your favorite wine with soft-to-the-touch rib meat.

We strongly suggest you combine a California Zinfandel with your grilled BBQ ribs to get the combo you want and deserve.

The fruity flavors of Zinfandel combine many undertones and overtones to produce an overwhelming and effective combination. In addition, black cherry, plum, jam, and even strawberry flavors are typical with Zins, making it a great contrast to your grilled meat.

Furthermore, its high acidity also compliments the sweet and tangy flavors typical with many barbecue sauces.

Try to find a wine with lower tannins when using tomato sauces on your ribs. Tannins will clash with the sauce and cause a rather unpleasant aftertaste.

Zins, thankfully, have few tannins and should pair well with just about any barbecued meat, though beef is usually the best option.

Grilled Ribs With Cabernet Sauvignon

Which Wines to Pair With Ribs - Grilled Ribs
A low-tannin Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with grilled ribs.

So, how does a good Cab go with grilled ribs? Surprisingly well, as long as you focus on a low-tannin option that’s been aged for several years.

A 10-year Cabernet Sauvignon is a great starting point for your rib and wine adventure. At this point, the tannins should be very soft and not give your wine a major kick that might be pretty unappealing and even upsetting to your stomach.

Instead, the lighter tannins bring out the meat flavor and can even help break down protein molecules a little to make your meat tenderer and more enjoyable.

Softer tannins also help the wine blend better with the fat in your ribs. Though you can still buy low-fat ribs, it’s hard to avoid all fat. Thankfully, Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t get overpowered by this fat and even helps it break down a little easier.

Expect vanilla, leather, smoke, tobacco, and chocolate notes when pairing your Cab with ribs.

These somewhat roasted flavors pair perfectly with your grilled meat, mainly when you get it well done. That said, medium ribs may also go well with Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on the intensity of the Cab and its age.

Older Cabs will go better with grilled meat, particularly as a baste.

Pork Ribs With a Sparkling Champagne

Which Wines to Pair With Ribs - Pork Ribs
Pop open the bubbly! Pork ribs and Champagne are made for each other.

It’s not a combination that might come up a lot, but sparkling champagnes and pork ribs are a fantastic combination!

Pork tends to be a little more tender than beef, particularly the ribs. As a result, it’s nice to have something a little lighter that fits easily on your palate when choosing a wine.

And since pork also has a reasonably sweet taste naturally, a glass of sparkling wine goes perfectly well with pork ribs.

We suggest an off-dry wine with a rich earthy scent and light fruity aromas and aftertastes. You don’t want anything too berry-heavy with pork because berries may overwhelm the ribs flavor if not properly blended.

Instead, aim for a wine with a ripe peach flavor. That combination will bring out the natural sweetness of your ribs and balance a fairly sweet barbecue sauce as well.

The best way to serve this wine with pork ribs is in a glass and not as a baste or meat covering. Sparkling wines have those fun bubbles that help to keep your mouth fresh. They also tend to keep you hungry and ready for more.

For example, a glass of sparkling wine might prepare you for a whole side of pork ribs, which can otherwise be an involved (if rewarding) process for the gourmet eater.

Australian Syrah/Shiraz With Beef Ribs

Which Wines to Pair With Ribs - Beef Ribs
Try an Australian Shiraz or French Syrah with beef ribs.

Syrah or Shiraz is a popular wine type that goes well with many meat-heavy dishes.

Beef ribs and Syrah are the best combinations here. They compliment each other perfectly, like your ribs’ grilled and smoky flavors will blend with a blackberry and vanilla taste from your wine.

You might also get a bit of black pepper aroma from this wine, which adds to your experience.

Some people will soak their ribs right in the Syrah and cook them on the grill this way. That method works well if your ribs are soft and tender. However, let the meat soak overnight in the wine before cooking to get the best results.

If you didn’t think ahead enough for this option, you can instead dip the meat directly into wine or just eat your ribs with a few sips of Syrah between each bite.

When choosing a Syrah, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank if you’re cooking directly with the wine. Remember: cooking with wine removes much of the wine’s alcohol and quality, so high-priced wines aren’t necessary here.

However, if you plan on simply having a glass of Syrah with your beef ribs, you can go for quality to ensure that you get the best taste possible.

French Syrah/Shiraz With Beef Ribs

Many of the same serving suggestions and ideas covered in previous sections apply to the next few, so we won’t go into as much detail over this second half of the article.

However, we will note that French Syrah, which is a bit fruitier than Australian, adds raspberry, blackberry, and cherry flavors to your beef ribs, making a sweet barbecue sauce more delicious. It even goes well with tomato-based sauces, so serve it up!

Malbec With Short Ribs

Short ribs require a slightly different approach, and, thankfully, Argentinian Malbec should work well for these ribs!

That’s because short ribs tend to be more tender and need a softer wine without excessive tannins or flavors.

Expect black cherry and plum flavors with your Malbec, as well as some vanilla and cocoa nuts. We also think this wine goes well with dry ribs or without a sauce.

Smoky BBQ Ribs With a Rich Dessert Wine

Dessert wines like a Red Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Riesling, or Merlot go well with smoky barbecue ribs.

These sweet flavors are beneficial when you overcook your meat, and it gets a little drier than you wanted. Soak your dry ribs directly in your wine to get the best results.

You may also take a drink between each bite to soak your meat and add to its overall flavor and aroma.

Pinot Noir and Dry Rub Ribs

If you prefer dry rub ribs, you need a Pinot Noir.

This combination helps your ribs stand out by boosting their flavor and making them a little less delicate. You’ll get a strawberry and cherry flavor that gives your ribs just enough kick to be delicious.

Expect a slight forest aroma with bright acidity. Serve your wine directly with your ribs and never go cheap: cheap Pinot just won’t cut it here.

Pairing White Wine With Ribs

Pick an off-dry Riesling when cooking with a spicy sauce if you prefer white wine. Ghost pepper and habanero fans, take note! Riesling helps minimize the excessive heat and makes your ribs more enjoyable.

Sparkling whites like Prosecco and Cava also go well with sticky and saucy ribs by minimizing that greasy texture you get from some ribs.

Emma Miller