What wine goes best with smoked brisket

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Velvety red wines featuring soft tannins pair perfectly with smoked brisket. A glass of red wine with this description is rich enough to balance the brisket without overpowering it.

The flavor profile of the wine pairing should be slightly acidic with a hint of herbal flavor or smokiness. These flavors compliment the heavy, smoky flavor of the meat.

Choosing a light wine that lacks these rich flavors will cause the wine to be overpowered by the dish. Usually, white wines fall into this category that the brisket will overpower. 

The next section will discuss why you should choose red wine over white wine to go with your smoked brisket. 

Two wine glasses being clinked - What wine goes best with smoked brisket?

Should You Pick Red or White Wine?

Because white wines tend to be lighter than red wines, they are not the best pairing for a heavy, meaty dish such as smoked brisket. White wines are more suited for lighter meats, such as grilled seafood.

Red wines are perfect for smoked brisket because they can carry the same power and heaviness as the dish. White wines also tend to have lower tannins because of the difference in the processing of red and white wines.

We briefly mentioned above that a smoked brisket should be paired with a wine with soft tannins. Soft does not mean less in this sense. It instead means that the tannins are smoother and not astringent or bitter.

The wine should have a moderate amount of tannins that are noticeable but not overpowering. A low-tannin white wine would not be the ideal choice in this regard. 


What is a Traditional Wine Choice?

Typically, smoky Zinfandel is the choice pairing for smoked brisket. It, like smoked brisket, has a rich, smoky flavor and complements the brisket flavors. Red Zinfandel features flavors of:


  • Tobacco
  • Cinnamon
  • Berries
  • Spiced plum
  • Vanilla
  • Peach preserves


Because of its rich, deep flavor profile, Zinfandel is a top choice for barbecued meats, including smoked brisket.

Despite red Zinfandel being the most popular wine pairing for beef brisket, some argue that its fruitiness takes away from the flavor of the brisket. Later on, we will discuss other wines that pair well with smoked briskets, such as Pinot Noir and Syrah. 


Do You Need Wine With More or Fewer Tannins?

The best option when choosing a red wine to go with your smoked brisket is a wine with medium tannins. Too many tannins could overpower the taste of the brisket if the wine is also acidic in flavor.

Also, remember, as we mentioned before, the tannins should have a soft, smooth, or velvety feel in the mouth. After sipping the wine, there shouldn’t be a strong taste left on the tongue.

This will leave space for the smoky flavor of the brisket to linger in the mouth. The goal with all wine and food pairings is to create a match that will allow the two to complement one another.

To create harmony in the mouth, certain flavors should not be paired. Likewise, one flavor should not overshadow the other.In the last section, we will discuss which wines should be avoided when paired with smoked brisket. 


Not So Typical Wine Choices that Work Well with Smoked Brisket

As promised, we will now list some wines besides red Zinfandel that pair nicely with smoked brisket.

Pinot noir is a popular dry red that pairs great with smoked brisket. If there was a race between Zinfandel and other red wines that pair with smoked brisket, pinot noir would come in second.

With its medium-bodied, refreshing taste, pinot noir is brisket’s perfect companion. Its flavor profile features:


  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Hibiscus
  • Clove


Pinot noir has a smooth finish and is the next best choice for your next brisket dinner. Next, we will talk about Syrah. This French wine is full-bodied and features flavors from herbal, earthy, and creamy to fruity and even spicy.

That’s a lot, right? However, this heavy hitter is sure to mark your memory as an intense yet lovely pairing for that smoked brisket. Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, fruity wine with medium tannins that is a solid pairing for brisket. 

It has moderate acidity that is enough to cleanse the palate but not overpower the flavor of the brisket. If you’re not jumping on the Zinfandel bandwagon, any three of the wines we mentioned are great pairings for smoked brisket. 


Which Wines Do You Need to Avoid?

As we mentioned at the beginning, light, white wines should be avoided when pairing with smoked brisket. Wines like pinot grigio would not be a good choice to pair with smoked brisket. 

Because of their mild flavor, pinot grigios are considered “beginner-friendly” wines. However, this mild flavor would quickly be overpowered by the smoky, rich flavor of the brisket. This meaty dish would overpower any light wine, so stay away from those.

Also, avoid anything too astringent because the bitter taste would overpower the brisket. An example of an astringent wine would be a high-acidity Cabernet Franc. 

Final Thoughts on Wine and Smoked Brisket

Wine and brisket is a simple meal that the perfect pairing of flavors can enrich. The overall message is to choose something equal to the brisket that will help highlight its smokiness and meaty flavors.

Medium-bodied, smooth red wines such as Syrah, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon are perfect, medium-acidity red wines to pair with your brisket. As a rule of thumb, avoid light, white wines that the brisket will overpower.

Now, with that in mind, take your Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or Syrah, and enjoy how the flavors of a deep, red wine dance in harmony with your rich, smoked brisket.