How Do You Grill With Wine?

Imagine the perfect summer evening: you’re outside, the grill is fired up, and the tantalizing aroma of sizzling food fills the air. But have you ever considered adding a splash of wine to take your grilling game up a notch? Grilling with wine may sound unconventional, but it can bring a whole new dimension of flavor to your culinary creations. From marinating meats to creating delectable sauces, this article will show you the endless possibilities of incorporating wine into your grilling adventures. So grab a glass, fire up the grill, and let’s explore the art of grilling with wine together!

Choosing the Right Wine

When it comes to grilling, choosing the right wine can make all the difference in elevating your culinary experience. Whether you’re grilling red meat, chicken, seafood, or even vegetables, there is a wine that perfectly complements each dish. Here are some popular types of wine to consider:

Red Wine

Red wine is a classic choice when it comes to grilling. It pairs beautifully with grilled red meat, such as steaks and burgers, adding depth and complexity to the flavors. The tannins in red wine can help cut through the richness of the meat, providing a perfect balance of flavors.

White Wine

White wine is a versatile option for grilling, particularly when it comes to lighter dishes such as grilled chicken or fish. Fruity and crisp white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, enhance the delicate flavors of these meats and provide a refreshing and vibrant pairing.

Rosé Wine

Rosé wine, with its light and fruity character, is an excellent choice for grilling. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, including seafood, salads, and even grilled fruits. The acidity and subtle sweetness of rosé wine can balance out the smoky and savory flavors from the grill.

Sweet Wine

For those who prefer a touch of sweetness in their grilled dishes, sweet wines can be a great choice. They can add a delightful complexity and contrast to grilled dishes like pork tenderloin or glazed barbecue ribs. Just be sure to find a sweet wine that complements the flavors without overwhelming them.

Dry Wine

If you prefer a less sweet and more restrained wine, dry wines are an excellent option for grilling. Dry white wines or light-bodied red wines can accentuate the natural flavors of grilled vegetables, providing a crisp and clean pairing. They allow the grilled vegetables to shine without overpowering them.

Why Use Wine for Grilling?

Now that you know what wines to choose from, you might wonder why using wine for grilling is worth considering. Here are a few key reasons:

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Enhancing Flavor

Using wine in your grilling recipes can enhance the overall flavor profile of your dishes. The complex flavors found in wine can infuse into the meat, vegetables, or even sauces, adding a unique depth and richness that takes your grilling to the next level.

Tenderizing Meat

Wine contains enzymes that help break down proteins in meat, effectively tenderizing it. By marinating your meat in wine before grilling, you can achieve a more tender and juicy result. The acidity in wine also helps to soften the meat fibers, making it more succulent and enjoyable to eat.

Adding Moisture

Grilling can sometimes dry out meats, resulting in less juicy and flavorful dishes. However, when you use wine in your grilling recipes, it can help retain moisture and prevent the meat from drying out. The wine adds a layer of moisture that keeps the meat tender and prevents it from becoming tough or chewy.

Marinating with Wine

Marinating meat before grilling is a tried-and-true technique to enhance its flavor and tenderness. Using wine as the base of your marinade can take the marinading process to a whole new level. Here’s how to do it:

Selecting the Right Wine for Marinades

When selecting a wine for your marinade, consider the flavors you want to highlight in your grilled dish. For red meat, opt for a bold and robust red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, as it can withstand the strong flavors of the meat. For white meat or fish, choose a lighter wine, like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, to complement the delicate flavors.

Creating the Marinade

To create a wine-based marinade, combine your chosen wine with other flavor-enhancing ingredients, such as herbs, spices, garlic, and olive oil. These additional ingredients will further enhance the flavors and infuse into the meat during the marinading process. Allow the meat to marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator to maximize the flavors.

Marinating Time and Techniques

The marinating time can vary depending on the type of meat and its thickness. Generally, the more tender the meat, the shorter the marinating time needed. Red meats typically benefit from longer marinating times, anywhere from 4 to 24 hours, while white meat and fish require less time, around 1 to 4 hours. Ensure that you lightly pat the meat dry before grilling to avoid excessive drippings and flare-ups.

Wine Infused Sauces

Sauces play a crucial role in grilling, as they can elevate the flavors of the grilled meat or vegetables. Wine can be a fantastic ingredient to incorporate into your sauces, offering complexity and richness. Here are a few ways to use wine in your sauce recipes:

Reducing Wine to Make a Sauce

One popular method of using wine in sauces is by reducing it to concentrate its flavors. To do this, simmer the wine in a saucepan over low heat until it reduces by about half. This reduction intensifies the flavors and can be the base for a savory sauce to accompany your grilled dishes. You can add additional herbs, spices, or even butter to further enhance the flavor.

Using Wine in Barbecue Sauces

Barbecue sauces are a staple in grilling, and adding wine to your homemade barbecue sauce can take it to new heights. Whether you’re making a tangy tomato-based sauce or a sweet and spicy glaze, incorporating wine can add depth and complexity to the flavors. Choose a wine that complements the other ingredients in your barbecue sauce for a harmonious flavor profile.

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Wine Reduction Marinades

Similar to reducing wine to make a sauce, you can also use wine as the base for a marinade and let it reduce while cooking the meat. This technique adds an intense wine flavor to the meat while simultaneously tenderizing it. Baste the meat with the wine reduction throughout the grilling process to further enhance the flavors and create a beautiful glaze.

Wine Soaked Wood Chips

Wood chips are commonly used in grilling to add a smoky flavor to the food. By soaking the wood chips in wine before grilling, you can infuse a subtle hint of wine into your grilled dishes. Here’s how to do it:

Choosing the Right Wood Chips

Selecting the appropriate wood chips is essential for achieving the desired flavors. Different woods impart different flavors, such as mesquite, hickory, applewood, or cherry wood. Choose wood chips that can complement the wine you’re using in your grilling recipe and the dish you’re preparing. For example, pairing oak wood chips with a robust red wine can result in a harmonious flavor combination.

Soaking Wood Chips in Wine

To infuse the wood chips with the wine, place them in a container and cover them with your chosen wine. Allow the wood chips to soak for at least 30 minutes before using them in your grill. This technique adds a subtle wine-infused smokiness to your grilled food, creating a memorable and unique flavor profile.

Using Wine in a Brine

Brining your meat before grilling is an excellent technique for enhancing its juiciness and flavor. By adding wine to the brine, you can impart additional depth and complexity to the meat. Here’s how to create a wine-infused brine:

Making a Wine Brine

To make a wine brine, combine equal parts of wine and water in a container. Add salt, sugar, herbs, and spices to the mixture, ensuring they are dissolved. Submerge the meat in the brine and refrigerate it for the recommended time, depending on the type of meat. The wine in the brine helps flavor the meat while the salt and sugar tenderize and retain moisture.

Brining Time and Techniques

The brining time varies depending on the size and type of the meat you are brining. As a general rule, smaller cuts of meat require shorter brining times, while larger cuts benefit from longer brining periods. Follow the recommended guidelines for brining times to avoid over-brining, which can result in overly salty meat. Rinse the meat thoroughly after brining and pat it dry before grilling.

Wine and Basting

Basting is an essential technique in grilling, helping to keep the meat moist and infuse additional flavors. Incorporating wine into your basting liquids can add complexity and depth to your grilled dishes. Here’s how to use wine for basting:

Using Wine in Basting Liquids

When creating your basting liquids, consider adding a splash of wine to enhance the flavors. Whether you’re using a mop sauce, a glaze, or a simple herb-infused oil, wine can add a unique twist and elevate the overall taste. Experiment with different combinations of wine and other ingredients to find the perfect balance for your grilled dishes.

Benefits of Wine Basting

Basting your food with wine can offer several benefits. First and foremost, it helps keep the meat moist throughout the grilling process, preventing it from drying out. Additionally, the wine infuses into the meat, adding complexity and depth to the flavors. This process creates a beautiful glaze on the surface of the meat, enhancing its visual appeal.

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Basting Techniques

There are various basting techniques to consider when grilling with wine. You can brush the wine-based basting liquid onto the meat using a basting brush, ensuring that you coat the meat evenly. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to mist the meat with the wine mixture, creating an even distribution of flavors. Experiment with different techniques to find the one that works best for you.

Wine Pairings for Grilled Foods

Pairing the right wine with your grilled dishes can enhance the overall dining experience. When it comes to grilled foods, here are some classic pairings to consider:

Red Meat and Full-Bodied Red Wine

Grilled red meats, such as steaks or lamb chops, are best paired with full-bodied red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Syrah are excellent choices, as their bold flavors complement the richness of the meat. The tannins in these wines can help cut through the fat, providing a harmonious and balanced pairing.

Chicken and Fruity Whites

Grilled chicken, whether it’s marinated or seasoned with herbs, pairs wonderfully with fruity white wines. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry Riesling can complement the flavors of the chicken. The acidity in these wines can cut through the slight smokiness from the grill and add a refreshing contrast.

Seafood and Light Whites or Rosés

Grilled seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, or fish, pairs beautifully with light white wines or rosés. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry rosé wine can enhance the delicate flavors of the seafood. The crispness and acidity of these wines provide a bright and lively pairing without overpowering the natural taste of the seafood.

Vegetables and Dry Whites

Grilled vegetables can be wonderfully vibrant and flavorful, and choosing the right wine to accompany them is crucial. Dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino can complement the sweetness and smokiness of the grilled veggies. The fresh and herbal notes in these wines can enhance the flavors and provide a refreshing contrast.

Tips for Grilling with Wine

Grilling with wine can be a delightful experience, but there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure the best results:

Avoid Over-Boozing

While using wine in grilling recipes adds flavor, be mindful of not overwhelming the dish with too much alcohol. Find the right balance, and remember that the alcohol evaporates during cooking, leaving behind the concentrated flavors of the wine.

Experiment with Different Wines

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of wine and flavors. Try pairing different wines with various meats, vegetables, or seafood to discover new and exciting flavor combinations. Have fun exploring the vast world of wine and grilling.

Balance the Flavors

When using wine in your grilling recipes, ensure that the flavors of both the wine and the dish are in harmony. Avoid choosing a wine that overpowers the other ingredients or clashes with the overall taste profile of the dish. Finding a balance between the wine and the other flavors is key to achieving a successful pairing.

Monitor the Heat

Grilling with wine requires careful attention to heat control. The sugars and alcohol in wine can cause flare-ups on the grill, leading to charred or burnt spots on the food. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust the temperature as needed to prevent excessive charring.

Be Mindful of Alcohol Content

Remember that using wine in grilling recipes does not entirely eliminate the alcohol content. While most of it evaporates during cooking, a small percentage may remain. If you have specific dietary restrictions or are serving the dish to children, consider using non-alcoholic wine or minimizing the wine content.


Grilling with wine offers a fantastic way to enhance the flavors of your dishes and take your culinary skills to new heights. Whether you’re marinating, basting, or creating wine-infused sauces, the possibilities are endless. So go ahead, choose the right wine, fire up the grill, and enjoy the delectable combination of wine and grilled goodness. Cheers to a flavorful and exciting grilling experience!