Best Wine for Ribs: Our 8 Favorites Wine Pairings!

best wine for ribs

Quick Answer: For an excellent pairing to all ribs, look no further than Zinfandel. Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with meatier ribs. And on those sizzling summer days, why not try some sparkling wine! Or if you're in the mood for a crisp white wine, Riesling is a fantastic pairing.

If your mouth starts watering just by reading the words “BBQ baby back ribs, Galbi, and St Louis Style Ribs”! Then you will want to continue reading. We all know that beer, soju, or other alcoholic beverages may pair perfectly with these juicy meat – but why not try something else that might work even better? Wine! So in this article we are going to go over the best wine for ribs.

If you’re looking for pairing beef short ribs, we have a wine pairing article just for that one dish!

Table of Contents

8 Best Wines For Ribs

1) Zinfandel

best zinfandel tasting notes

Zinfandel is a popular choice for pairing with ribs. It’s a medium to full-bodied wine with bold flavors of dark fruit jam, spices, and pepper. Thus, its great match for smoky and spicy ribs, as it can hold up to the bold flavors of the dish.

Also, the medium tannins in the wine can stand up to the strong flavors of the beef, while the fruitiness and jammy notes of the wine can help balance out any heat or spiciness in the rub or sauce.

2) Cabernet Sauvignon

justin cabernet sauvignon tasting notes

Cabernet Sauvignon is another classic pairing for ribs. This wine is full-bodied, with bold flavors of black fruit, vanilla, earth, spice, and oak. It can complement the smoky and rich earthy flavors of ribs cooked on a grill or in a smoker. Also a great pairing for lamb ribs, that have the gamey flavor and seasoned with rosemary, garlic, and other herbs.

Most importantly, the high tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon can make any meat even more juicy. While this wine’s tannins will be softened by the proteins of the meat, making it even smoother to drink.

3) Malbec

Another versatile wine, Malbec pairs well with pork ribs, especially if they are seasoned with spices like cumin, smoked paprika, or chili powder. Because the wine’s smoky and spicy notes can complement the flavors of the rub or sauce, while the fruit flavors can balance out any heat or spiciness.

Also another good wine for gamey meat, the wine’s earthy and spicy notes as well as the fruit flavors can balance out any gaminess in the meat.

4) Syrah/Shiraz

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a full-bodied wine with bold flavors of dark fruit, spice, and earthy notes. Therefore, again the earthy and peppery notes can balance out any earthy flavors in the meat.

And if you enjoy spicy foods and ribs, and this wine is an ideal pairing to accentuate those flavors.

Because while the wine’s dark fruit flavors can complement the sweetness of the meat, the peppery notes will enhance any heat or spiciness in the rub or sauce.

5) Sparkling Wine

best wine for ribs

For most food and wine pairings, sparkling wine is always a good choice. Thanks to its effervescence, the bubbles in the wine help cleanse your palate and refresh your taste palate between bites. Furthermore, on those hot summer days when you’re munching on BBQ ribs, nothing is more refreshing than a crisp glass of sparkling wine.

Also its high acidity, which can help cut through the rich and fatty flavors of the ribs. Lastly, sparkling wine is often associated with celebration and special occasions, which can make it a fun and festive pairing for a backyard barbecue or family gathering.

6) Grenache

Grenache Fun Facts full bodied red wine

Grenache wines are known for their peppery, berry flavors and a smooth palate, as well as a relatively high alcohol content. Grenache pairs well with pork ribs, especially if they are seasoned with a sweet or tangy barbecue sauce. Plus, the wine’s berry flavors can complement the sweetness of the sauce, while the peppery notes can complement the heat or spice in the rub or sauce.

Also, the wine’s bold flavors of pepper, herbs, and cinnamon make it a great pairing for any herb or spiced rib dish. Lastly, the wine’s earthy notes can complement the bold flavors of gamey meat. And if you want something special try a Châteauneuf du Pape!

7) Merlot

Another medium to full bodied red wines, Merlot has flavors of red fruit, chocolate, and herbs. The wine’s soft tannins can complement the richness and bold flavor of the beef, while the fruit flavors can bring of the flavors in the meat.

Also the wine’s fruit-forward flavors can complement the sweetness of the sauce. While the tannins can bring out the juiciness in the meat.

8) Riesling

White wines may not be the first choice for pairing with ribs, as red wines tend to be more popular due to their bold flavors and tannins that can complement the richness of the meat.

However, if you prefer white wine or want to try something different, Riesling is often considered a good white wine to pair with ribs. Because it has high acidity that can cut through the richness and fat of the meat. It also has a wide range of styles and sweetness levels, making it a versatile wine to pair with different types of ribs and sauces.

Different Types of Ribs

best wine for ribs

Ribs are a popular cut of meat that come from the ribcage of various animals. There are different types of ribs, each with their own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most common types of ribs:

  1. Pork spare ribs: These are the most common type of ribs you’ll find at the grocery store or in restaurants. And they come from the belly side of the pig and have more fat and connective tissue than other types of ribs. Pork spare ribs can be cooked in a variety of ways, including smoked, grilled, or braised.
  2. BBQ Baby back ribs: These are smaller and more tender than pork spare ribs. They come from the top of the pig’s ribcage and have less meat than spare ribs but are still flavorful.
  3. St. Louis-style ribs: These are pork spare ribs that have been trimmed to remove the cartilage and sternum bone. Therefore, they are meatier, fattier, and more uniform in size than regular spare ribs.
  4. Beef short ribs: These are larger and meatier than pork ribs and come from the lower part of the cow’s ribcage. They are often braised or slow-cooked to tenderize the meat and break down the connective tissue.
  5. Galbi (also spelled as kalbi): A Korean dish that consists of grilled beef short ribs. The ribs are marinated in a sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, and other ingredients. And this marinade is applied for several hours or overnight to penetrate into the meat. Thus, giving them a sweet and savory flavor.  The ribs are then grilled until they are crispy and caramelized on the outside, while still tender and juicy on the inside.

Tips to Pairing Wine With Ribs

Pairing wine with ribs can be a delicious and rewarding experience, but it can also be a bit tricky, as the bold flavors and richness of the meat can sometimes overpower the wine. Here are some tips to help you pair wine with ribs:

  1. Consider the seasoning: The type of seasoning used on the ribs can greatly influence the wine pairing. For example, if the ribs are seasoned with a sweet or tangy barbecue sauce, you may want to consider pairing them with a fruity and full-bodied red wine like Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. On the other hand, if the ribs are seasoned with a spicy rub or marinade, you may want to consider pairing them with a wine with bold flavors and tannins like Syrah/Shiraz or Malbec.
  2. Choose a wine with enough acidity: Ribs can be rich and fatty. So it’s important to choose a wine with enough acidity to cut through the richness and cleanse your palate. Wines with higher acidity like Riesling, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese can be good options to consider.
  3. Consider the cooking method: The way the ribs are cooked can also influence the wine pairing. For example, if the ribs are smoked, you may want to consider pairing them with a wine that has smoky flavors like a Syrah/Shiraz or a Zinfandel. Alternatively, if the ribs are grilled, you may want to consider pairing them with a wine that has a bit of charred oak flavors like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

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