Which wine pairs best with ribs?

A question probably not asked too often on Sunday…or Thursday Night. But as diehard football fans and purveyors of upper level football grub, we think you can enjoy a glass of wine during the game just as much as a cold beer.

Granted, sipping a 2007 Rosato in the tailgate lot may seem as out of place as a porkchop in a salad bar. But not every occasion calls for brewskie. For instance, let’s say it’s Thursday and you just ordered dinner at your favorite locally owned restaurant named after an azure-hued canine. Maybe you ordered a cut of sirloin or a nice steak & rib combo and a baked potato. And maybe a tall, frosty beer sounds a little too heavy to go with your meal.

Or maybe you’re just an ambassador for fine taste, showing the rest of us savages how it’s done.

Whatever the reason, pairing a glass of wine with football food is more than possible – it will actually bring out some pretty incredible flavors with your meal. Allow us to help guide you through this uncharted territory.

Pairing Wine with Football Food – The Appetizer

If you’re a fan of fried apps, like French fries or fried cheese, a sparkling wine a fried-food-friendly and won’t overpower the flavor of your salty snacks. So, pop a cork of the bubbly early, because the party is just getting started!

On the other hand, if you’re a chips and salsa kinda football fan, a Sauvignon Blanc pairs great with the salty tortilla chips and the tangy tomato salsa.


Whether as a hors d’oeuvre or entrée, chicken wings are a gridiron staple. And any self-respecting football fan is going to crank up the heat for the big game. When it comes to spicy foods, Riesling can take a punch with a bright acidity and notes of apple and citrus.

If you like something a little drier, a Chardonnay proves a solid match to the wings’ vinegary sauce.


The trick to pairing wine to pizza is making a selection based on the toppings. Standard issue cheese pizza with tomato sauce and Italian seasonings gets a Chianti made from Sangiovese. The unoaked red wine is juicy and light-bodied, which is a perfect complement to pizza.

If you put pepperoni or sausage on your pizza, you might need a heftier red, like a Shiraz or a medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re like a lighter red, a Zinfandel will do the trick.

One popular pizza now is ham and pineapple, for which we recommend the Riesling. Its fruity notes complement the toppings while its acidity is high enough to handle the sauce.


It’s not as easy as just ordering a glass of red wine. Like with pizza, you want to consider the topping when pairing a wine to a juicy burger. As a rule, the sweeter your toppings, the higher the acidity you’ll want.

American-style burgers with ketchup, relish, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese should be paired with a light, refreshing red. Either a Barbera or Chianti would work.

For smoky and salty toppings, like bacon or blue cheese, try a dry Lambrusco. If you don’t like dry wine, a nice, jammy fruit wine, like Zinfandel, will do the trick.

The Grill

We saved the best for last! Nothing says football tailgate like a hot grill and some smoked meats.

For bratwurst, stick with Deutschland and go with a dry Riesling. The fruit flavor (but no sweetness) is a perfect complement to the white pepper and marjoram in the brats.

A T-bone steak needs a red, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bold Cabernet Sauvignon. A Chilean red, like a Carménère, still cuts through the fattiness of the steak and adds the right amount of spice to bring out a delicious, robust flavor.

BBQ ribs can be tricky. You have to quash the instinct to pair your wine to the meat (beef or pork) and focus on the sauce and spices instead. A huge wine can actually mask the deceivingly delicate flavors of BBQ meat.

For ribs with a sweeter sauce, we actually recommend more of that bubbly stuff. Sparkling wine helps cleanse your palate to keep your mouth ready for each savory bite. For dry rubs, a red Lambrusco’s dry, earthy flavors pair nicely with the rub’s spices.

For a hands-down, no worries, gimme putt selection, Syrah loves BBQ meat. When in doubt, a medium-bodied Syrah boasts a jammy fruit and spice flavor that includes notes of licorice. You can’t miss with a glass of this with your ‘cue.