The Ultimate Braai Pairing Guide For Heritage Day

The Ultimate Braai Pairing Guide For Heritage Day

We’re celebrating Heritage Day the classic way - with a good meal and plenty of wine.

Whatever it is that you’re braaing tomorrow, we have a detailed guide to help you make a memorable pairing, to enhance this proudly South African Day!

Smoky Ribs

When it comes to serving up ribs, you’re looking for a weighty wine to match the smoky flavours. White wine will seldom work with smoky ribs unless they are heavily wooded or decently aged.

Bordeaux blends have the body and structure to match the smokiness of the ribs. And if you’re after grilling up a fattier type, like lamb, this wine will work just as well to balance out the meat’s richness.

Alternatively, a classic Shiraz is the next best thing as the smokiness from the Shiraz is ideal since it complements the smokiness in the meat.

Pork Chops or Pork Belly

Whether it be chops or belly, pork is a more delicate type of meat that requires a softer wine. The heavier wines that you pair along with a steak tends to overwhelm pork. Instead, opt for slightly lighter-bodied red or white wines

White Wine Options

When it comes to pork, white wine works just as well (if not better) with the cuts of meat. Dry Riesling is the best choice, along with Semillon-Sauvignon blends or Viognier. These wines will cut through the richness of the pork, remaining equally as prominent as the dish.

Red Wine Options

When it comes to red wine, something as light and fruity as a Cinsault is ideal. The wine has some weight without too much tannin to overwhelm the meat. The key when choosing any red wine here is to avoid high-tannin reds. 


The classic cuts of steak pair well with just about any red wine. Keep in mind, the ideal choice of wine might differ depending on the basting, and the sauces served alongside the meat.

Again, like with any robust red meat, white wines are not a well-suited option. For the best pairing experience, pair your cut of steak with a red wine that is able to carry the weight of the protein.

Cabernet Sauvignon is generally the go-to for any type of steak. This wine has the structure and intensity to pair well with most steak sauces, but peppercorn especially. Alternatively, any Cabernet-Sauvignon blends, Shiraz or heavier Pinotage wines work just as well. 

Grilled Chicken

For those looking to braai lighter meat, like chicken, there are plenty of pairings to indulge in. 

Red Wine Options

Pinot Noir is the best option when it comes to red wine. A light-bodied style of Pinot should be the first choice since you want to steer clear of wines with high tannin. Any wine heavier than a light Pinot will ruin your pairing experience.

White Wine Options

Most white wines, whether slightly wooded or zesty and light, will accompany BBQ chicken well. When the meat is roasted with simple herbs and spices, a refreshing white, like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, is the best option.

When the chicken is heavily basted or served with a creamy sauce, opt for wooded white wines like Chardonnay or Semillon.

Fish BBQ

While fish might not be considered the typical BBQ option, it is becoming more popular worldwide. When indulging in any fish dish, there really are no red wines that will suit the dish as well as white wines can. The tannin of the red wines is detrimental for light meat like fish. If you pair high-tannin wines with fish, you will ruin your experience. 

Fortunately, most light and refreshing white wines pair exceptionally well with any fish dish. Whether the BBQ fish consists of a piece of fish like hake or whether it consists of prawns and mussels, a Riesling is always a first-choice option. This grape’s acidity and flavours bring out the very best in the dish. An unwooded Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc or even Sauvignon Blanc are all great alternatives too.

We hope that this guide will ensure a fantastic Braai Day for you and your family! Happy pairing!


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