Marinades, Sauces, Rubs & Salsas

Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce

What’s the best wine to serve with barbecue? One often named by the pros is zinfandel. Born on California’s sun-baked slopes, zinfandel is a strong, brawny wine with the vigor to stand up to spice and smoke flavors. It goes particularly well with beef and lamb — two of my favorite meats to cook on the grill — but it’s also good with pork and poultry.


Zinfandel Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/4 cups


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 to 5 shallots, minced (for 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups zinfandel
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Melt the butter in a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Step 2: Add all but 2 tablespoons of the wine and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the mixture boil until reduced about 1/3 cup, 8 to 12 minutes.

Step 3: Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and liquid smoke. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer gently until thick and richly flavored, 6 to 10 minutes, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of wine after 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar, salt and/or pepper as necessary. You can serve the sauce warm or at room temperature. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for several weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Steven Raichlen, a national barbecue treasure and author of The Barbecue! Bible, How to Grill, and other books in the …

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