Best Wines For Grilling: Sausages

Wine Pairings

We help you pick wine to drink with the food you eat.


[Photo: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Fresh off the grill, with their casings straining to keep all the juicy goodness inside, sausages scream summertime communal eats. But what to drink? We've already rounded up our top beer choices, but you're sure to have at least one guest or family member (or, maybe even yourself) who prefers a glass of wine. So what should you serve?

Pairing Tips

Sausages are salty. Very salty. Salt loves fresh, mouthwatering acidity in wine, and a wine that seems sharply acidic on its own will mellow out with a salty dish. Many wines will work, but large, full bodied and tannic reds like Cabernet Sauvignon should be avoided. Big reds tend to be low in acid, and thus continue to feel heavy, even grating with salty foods, and their astringent tannins can clash with salt, making everything taste—and feel—rough.

Spice levels in sausages should also be considered—go just a little sweeter with fiery foods. A tongue-tingling spicy sausage will love an off-dry wine with some residual sugar, while a regular old hot dog will make the same wine taste sticky and cloying.

Best All Around Reds

Fresh and fruity with low tannins and cracked black pepper on the nose and finish, the offbeat Austrian grape zweigelt goes with just about every kind of sausage. Try the cheap and cheerful 2009 Zvy-Gelt with all of your grilled goods. (Around $11, find this wine)

Second honors go to the under-loved gamay, whose earthy structure sets up dark cherry and dried berry fruits with medium tannins and fresh acidity. Move outside of the traditional Beaujolais to the Loire Valley and try one that marries a pleasant stink with ripe fruit, like the 2009 Henri Marionnet Domaine de la Charmoise Touraine Gamay. (Around $12, find this wine)

Best All Around White

Gewürtztraminer, with its seductively spicy scent of lychee and rose water pairs well with the salt, spice, and sugar that pop up in most sausages. Try the 2009 Villa Wolf Pfalz Gewürtztraminer for its aromatic nose and round off-dry flavors. ($10-$14, find this wine)

Best With Hot Dogs

High acidity rosés cut through the salty fat of a traditional frank. We love the crisp and salinity-laden 2010 Ameztoi Rubentis Getariako Txakolina from Spain's Basque region. ($18-$25, find this wine)

Best With Spicy Sausages

An off-dry riesling packed with minerality and fresh stone fruit flavors like the 2009 Chateau Ste Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica from Columbia Valley, Washington will save your tongue from spicy sausages. ($16-$26, find this wine)

About the Author: Sarah Chappell is a winemonger and writer living in Brooklyn. She holds the Advanced Certificate with Distinction from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and has contributed to Foodista, Palate Press and WineChap.