When you think of Texas BBQ, the first thing that comes to mind is (and should be) brisket. But, the Longhorn state offers so much more than just that one fatty, juicy hunk of meat. Texas BBQ is almost always smoked, and it is almost always beef, though many restaurants do offer things like sausage and pulled pork to please every palate. 

Most Texas BBQ is dry-rubbed with sauce served on the side, since the meat itself should be the centerpiece. Is your mouth watering yet? 

There are too many BBQ restaurants and smokehouses in Texas to name, but in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, more people are cooking at home than ever before. So, whether you’re trying to cook dinner for your family or throw the best backyard barbeque for your closest friends to round out the summer, how can you make sure you’re getting it right, and what are the best wine pairings to serve with your ‘cue? 

A Backyard BBQ Ripe With Tradition

In order to throw a memorable BBQ, take note of Texas tradition, and how influential Southern cooking really is when it comes to the art of barbequing. With that being said, there are different regions of Texas barbeque to keep in mind when you’re planning your own backyard cookout. You can choose to stick with your own region, or mix it up and explore how different BBQ areas pair with different wines and other foods. Some of the most commonly-known types of ‘cue in Texas include: 

  • Central Texas – Uses oak and pecan wood to smoke meat slowly
  • East Texas – Tends to rely on tomato-based sauces
  • South Texas – Focuses on thick, sweet sauces as well as Barbacoa from the Mexican border
  • West Texas – Uses mesquite wood to cook over an open fire instead of a smoker

Whatever region you decide to focus on, there are a few important steps to throwing the best backyard BBQ, including buying high-quality meat, dressing up your yard, and inviting the people you love the most! 

Mixing Things Up

Although tradition is important when it comes to Texas BBQ, don’t be afraid to mix things up when it comes to the wood you use, the meats you choose, and the sauces you purchase or make yourself. For example, why not try a blueberry BBQ sauce on grilled or smoked chicken? Or, set up a “sauce bar” with different varieties and have your family or guests choose their favorites for their meat. 

It’s also a good idea to choose foods that will compliment your meats well, especially if you’re serving wine. For example, people typically pair wine and cheese together. Some of the best pairings that would work well in a backyard BBQ setting include: 

  • Cheddar and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Gouda and Merlot
  • Havarti and Sauvignon Blanc

Having appetizers or “snacks” people can munch on before the main event is a good idea to keep everyone happy. Plenty of side dishes are also the norm at any BBQ, and traditional Texas sides include cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese. 

Pairing the Perfect Wines

While you might think that Texas BBQ pairs perfectly with an ice cold beer (and it does), you can really change up the feel of your next summer barbeque by pairing your smoked and grilled meats with some traditional Texas wines

If you’re serving strictly beef at your BBQ, choose a bold red wine like a Shiraz or Chianti. They will pair well with the deep pepper and tobacco flavors of the beef. If you’re going for pork, try Pinot Noir or a Riesling. 

The wines you choose should also depend on the sauces being served on the ‘cue or on the side. It’s all about finding a balance between sweet and savory. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative and step outside of the box with your next Texas BBQ. By understanding how the flavors of the meat can vary depending on how it’s prepared and the sauces you use, you’ll have a better idea of which wines to pair them with. When you’re able to do that, you can make those long summer nights last well into the autumn with each sip from your glass.