Celebrating the Fourth of July may be more about casual barbecues and picnic tables littered with juicy burgers and hot dogs, but that doesn’t mean that the wine should be overlooked. So we’ve called in two ‘cue experts— Wesley Disney, beverage director at Atlanta’s upscale barbecue hotspot Smokebelly, and Riley McJilton, GM and beverage director at Dallas’ beloved SMOKE—to help us elevate our cookout game with wine pairings that perfectly complement the most iconic barbecue foods. Take a look!

 

BBQ ribs

  • Disney’s pick: “When it comes to BBQ Ribs with lots of flavor and fat, I crave something that'll match up to its big bold flavor like Matchbook’s Syrah 2012 ($14)—it’s big and robust with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon added to soften some of those aggressive tannins and help bring out that slow-cooked juice from your ribs.
  • McJilton's pick: “Go for Three Wine Company’s Red Label Zinfandel ($16), slightly chilled. A mild spice and low acidity lend to a great combination with a sweeter barbecue sauce and smoky flavors.”

 

Fresh crabs

  • Disney’s pick: “There’s so many routes to go with this one, but I'd go with an un-oaked Chardonnay, like the Donati Family's Sisters Forever Chardonnay ($16). I wouldn't want to over power the delicate shell fish [with an overly buttery Chardonnay], but a good crisp one with some lively fruit notes supports my friends from the sea the best.”
  • McJilton's pick: “Bright fruit with a crisp acidity will balance great with any seafood—Long Meadow Ranch’s Sauvignon Blanc ($20) is the perfect combination of both.”

 

Potato salad

  • Disney’s pick: “Pairing potato salad with wine isn't easy, but you'll want something that can contrast the creaminess of the mayo and the heaviness of the starch. Try a dry white with a lush mouthfeel, like the Foris Vineyards Gewurtztraminer 2013 ($14).”
  • McJilton's pick: “Go for Boundary Breaks’ Riesling ($12)—lush and bright with a long delicate finish, it will tie in great with both a mustard or mayo based potato salad.”

 

Corn on the cob

  • Disney’s pick: “I drench my corn on the cob in butter and salt, so something that can stand up to the salt and wash the butter flavors off the palate is ideal. I'd grab Laurenz V Singing Gruner Veltliner ($15) because of its fine acidity and its great white pepper notes compliment that buttery flavor, while its grassy notes with a hint of spice are great with any grilled vegetables. 
  • McJilton's pick: “A perfectly balanced chardonnay, like Wonderland Project’s ‘The White Queen’ Chardonnay ($26), will pair well with the sweet and buttery flavors of grilled corn on the cob.”

 

Strawberry shortcake

  • Disney’s pick: “Try one of my favorite ice wines: Adelsheim's Deglace 2012 ($35). This is not a nerdy contrast, but an ultra compliment to the dessert with the wine singing of strawberry short cake on the nose and having the utmost balanced finish.”
  • McJilton's pick: “I think sparkling Rose when I think strawberries and cream—Domaine Chandon’s Sparkling Rose ($20) is always a quality choice.”

 

Bonus...Hot Dogs!

Go for Rose—“it’s best to avoid big, tannic wines with sausage and hot dogs, as something with acidity will cut through the fat, while minerality will enhance the salty and savory,” says Disney. Try JCB Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé No 69 ($17).”