The Ultimate Wine Pairing Guide for Classic North Carolina Barbecue Dishes

There is nothing quite like quality North Carolina style barbecue, no matter what time of year it is. The blend of smoky flavors with sweet undertones is an experience like no other. But did you know there is the possibility of enhancing this experience? While on the surface it may seem like this typically messy style of cooking is not the right environment for wine, the truth is wine and barbecue complement each other perfectly when you know how to pair them. Whether you live in North Carolina and have perfected your own variant of the barbecue style or you are just a fan of North Carolina style barbecue, we here at RayLen Vineyards want to help you embrace your interest in and love of wine with this ultimate guide to pairing wine with classic North Carolina barbecue dishes.

Beef and Pork

When it comes to grilled meats, a glass of bold red wine is the way to go. This is because the tannins in the red wine are balanced perfectly with the fatty and umami in the red meat. So whether you opt for beef or pork, keep a bold red in mind. There is another layer to this particular pairing group though.


When it comes to grilled beef, you want a wine that is going to enhance the tobacco and pepper flavors. You want a full-bodied wine that is going to add to your experience of the meat, not detract from it. Our Cabernet Franc or our Cabernet Sauvignon are both excellent blends when it comes to being paired with a rack of grilled beef or gourmet burgers.


Pork is best paired with a red wine that boasts a high fruit-factor or touch of sweetness. Pair your grilled pork with a red wine that boasts the same smoky sweet flavorings. A red wine that is medium to full-bodied with plenty of backbone is sure to enhance your overall experience when you are grilling a rack of ribs or juicy pork chops. Our Merlot is an option that boasts hints of ripe blackberry and cherry alongside layers of toasted vanilla and fennel, make it an excellent pairing for grilled pork dishes.

What It’s All About: The Sauce

Whether you choose to use a wine alongside the meat as a sauce like the french do or pair a wine that complements the smoky-sweet flavoring of traditional North Carolina barbecue sauces, it is important to remember that red meats in barbecue are ultimately all about that sauce. Our Carolinius Red is the perfect option to pair with a more sauce oriented meal, as it is sure to bring out the best flavorings of a traditional North Carolina barbecue sauce.

Chicken and Fish

When it comes to pairing wine with grilled chicken and fish, we enter into a different branch of wine. For these particular proteins, you will want a full-bodied white or rosé wine. This is because this type of wine acts as a palette cleanser and doesn’t overwhelm the flavors presented by the chicken and fish dishes.


Chicken pairs with wine best when you use it to complement the sauce or spice rub. Glazed sauces pair best with a glass of sweet wine, while herb chicken tends to pair with wines that boast a more herbal flavoring to them. Our Riesling is a delightful option when it comes to being paired with chicken, as is our White Carolinius blend.


When it comes to fish, there will always be two camps. For fish that have a rich flavor and texture to them such as salmon, a buttery wine is often the right choice. One of our Chardonnay blends is an excellent choice when it comes to choosing a buttery wine, especially our 2019 Chardonnay blend. However, for fish that tend to fall on the “fishy” flavored list like a lot of white fish that are on the market, you want a wine that is a bit zippy in flavor. Our Viognier is an excellent choice when you are scouring the market for a zippy wine to complement your white fish barbecue meals.

What It’s All About: The Style

Fish and chicken come down to style when you want to pair wine with them. There tend to be a lot more flavor varieties when it comes to cooking these proteins and it is important to keep them in mind when choosing a wine to go alongside them. There is, unfortunately, no one wine that will pair perfectly through the entire spectrum of chicken and fish, but that only makes this one of the more fun areas to experiment in when it comes to pairing wines with traditional dishes.

And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to pairing wines with traditional North Carolina barbecue dishes. Whatever you happen to want to toss onto the grill, RayLen Vineyards has a wine that can pair with it to enhance the flavor and complement the meal perfectly. Feel free to visit us at our Yadkin Valley Winery location for a tasting or to pursue our collection of wines for sale. Hopefully, this guide has helped you learn how to perfectly pair wines with the deliciousness of North Carolina barbecue dishes. If you’re looking for specific recommendations for a variety of seafood dishes, we have you covered in our seafood/wine guide. We hope to see you at our winery soon and look forward to helping you obtain the perfect wine for your next barbecue.