Regional Barbecue Guide, Plus the Wines to Go with Them

Pairing wines with the country's best barbecue

I’ve mentioned previously that you can get a close approximation to barbecue on a grill, using indirect heat and the light smokiness the grill provides, boosted by some smoldering chunks of wood if desired, to give you that barbecue flavor. Ultimately, though, it’s just that, a close approximation. True ‘cue needs to be slow-smoked, and for that you really do need a smoker. But all is not lost!

While the texture and flavor of your meat depends on the type of cooking you subject it to, you can always add the finishing touch of true barbecue to any recipe by simply using the right sauce or dry rub. The myriad regional barbecue sauces that make up the pantheon of true ‘cue are one of the culinary treasures of this country. The Carolinas alone have four distinct styles of saucing, each one bringing something unique and intriguing to the table.

Memphis-Style Ribs
But ‘cue is not built on saucing alone. The use of dry rubs also serves to distinguish regional style of barbecuing, with the Memphis and Texas styles being most closely associated with this method of preparation. I love using a dry rub when I barbecue, preferring it to more heavily sauced preparations, but I hope you are inspired by the ideas presented here to find your own style of barbecue.

To kick things off though, lets start with a classic Memphis Dry Rub preparation.

Smoky, spicy, and just a little sweet, dry rub ribs don’t really need sauce to taste great, though I am partial to pairing them with something akin to the classic eastern Carolina barbecue sauce for some added depth of meaty flavor and a little acidic bite. Petite sirah, with it’s juicy acidity and robust, if simple fruit flavors is my go to wine for memphis style ribs.

Try: Girard Petite Sirah

Click here to find more regional barbecue and wine pairings.


— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth