Pairing Churrasco with Wine and Beverages

When you’re grilling churrasco, the bold flavors of this Brazilian barbecue demand equally thoughtful beverage counterparts.

Selecting the right wine or drink to pair with churrasco is essential for enhancing both the meal and the sipping experience. Your choice should complement the smoky and often charred characteristics of the meat without overwhelming its natural flavors.

A table set with churrasco, wine, and beverages

Understanding the seasoning and marinades that coat your churrasco is the first step to making an informed pairing.

These can range from simple salt to a mix of traditional spices like garlic and cumin.

If your churrasco boasts a spicy or garlic-heavy profile, you might consider a full-bodied red wine such as an Argentinian Malbec to stand up to the hearty flavors.

The intense fruitiness and subtle oakiness can harmonize with the robust seasoning.

For those preferring white wine, a rich Chardonnay with notes of vanilla and butter can complement the churrasco’s smokiness, particularly if it’s prepared with milder spices.

And when it comes to non-wine beverages, a crisp lager or an amber ale can cleanse the palate between bites, refreshing your taste buds for the next flavorful mouthful.

Understanding Churrasco

A table set with various cuts of churrasco, glasses of red and white wine, and assorted beverages, accompanied by a spread of colorful fruits and vegetables

When you approach the technique of churrasco, you’re engaging with a traditional form of grilling, attributed primarily to Brazil but popular throughout Latin America.

The essence of churrasco revolves around the art of grilling beef, although other types of meat can be used.

Preparation of the Meat: Your choice of cut is pivotal.

Beef cuts such as flank steak, sirloin, or ribeye are most common. The quality of the meat is crucial, as it should be tender and well-marbled for optimal flavor.

Marinade: A simple marinade is traditional, often consisting of salt, garlic, and lime juice.

  • Marinating Time: At least 30 minutes

Seasoning: When it comes to seasoning, less can be more. The focus should remain on the meat’s natural flavor, so a generous sprinkle of rock salt might be all you need.

Cooking Method: Churrasco is typically prepared on a grill.

  • Ideal Texture: A churrasco-cooked steak should have a crisp exterior and be tender within.
  • Desired Flavor Profiles: The flavors aim to amplify the natural savoriness of the meat, with subtle hints from the marinade and seasoning.

Remember, the hallmark of churrasco is its simplicity, allowing the inherent qualities of the beef to stand out.

How you grill, season, and serve the churrasco greatly influences its final texture and flavor profile.

Basics of Wine Pairing

When you’re pairing wine with churrasco, consider the principles that sommeliers use to create a harmonious match between food and wine.

Flavor intensity should align; a robust cut of churrasco pairs best with wines that can stand up to its strong flavors.

Acidity in wine is your friend, especially when considering fatty meats. The acidity cuts through the richness, refreshing your palate.

Wines with bright acidity, such as a Malbec or a Shiraz, complement the charred, smoky profile of churrasco well.

Be mindful of tannins – compounds in red wines that give a drying sensation.

Pairing a tannic wine with a meat like churrasco can be delightful as the protein softens the tannins, enhancing the wine’s fruitiness. A Cabernet Sauvignon, known for its tannic structure, could be an excellent choice.

Here’s a simple guide to help you pair effectively:

Food CharacteristicWine Characteristic
High Fat ContentHigh Tannins/Acidity
Robust FlavorIntense Flavor Profile
Preferred SeasoningComplementary Notes

Selecting Wines for Churrasco

A table set with various wine bottles, glasses, and churrasco meats. A sommelier or host arranging the pairing of wines with the grilled meats

When you pair churrasco, the vibrant, char-grilled beef widely loved in South American cuisine, choosing the right wine can enhance your culinary experience.

The robust flavors of churrasco call for wines that can complement the hearty meat yet provide a balanced profile.

Bold Red Wines: Bold red wines are the traditional companions for red meat dishes like churrasco.

With their substantial body and rich tannins, they not only withstand the strong flavors but allow both the food and the drink to shine.

  • Malbec: Originating from Argentina, Malbec is almost synonymous with churrasco. It brings forth a lush palette of dark fruit flavors which harmonize beautifully with the smoky BBQ essence of the meat.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: With its full-bodied nature and notes of black cherry and blackcurrant, Cabernet Sauvignon offers a robust structure that can cut through the fattiness of the beef.
VarietyNotesPairing Reasoning
ZinfandelSpicy, fruityComplements churrasco’s charred edges
SyrahDark fruit, peppery, smokyEchoes the smokiness of the grill

Wine Temperature: Serve your red wines slightly below room temperature. This ensures that their bold flavors don’t overpower your palate and that they provide a refreshing contrast to the hot churrasco.

Accompaniments: Consider the sides that you will serve.

If your churrasco comes with a spicy chimichurri or a rich sauce, the wine should provide enough flavor intensity to match these accompaniments without being overshadowed.

White Wine and Churrasco

A sizzling churrasco steak pairs with a glass of white wine on a rustic wooden table, surrounded by bottles of various beverages

When selecting a white wine to complement churrasco, you should consider the wine’s body and acidity which must balance the meat’s texture and flavor profile.

Lighter Fare Pairings

For churrasco dishes that feature lighter cuts of meat or include citrus-based marinades, select a white wine that can offer a refreshing contrast.

The goal is to cut through the richness without overpowering the delicate flavors of the meat.

  • Sauvignon Blanc: An excellent choice for its zesty citrus notes that can brighten up your meal.
  • Pinot Grigio: Offers a crisp finish, balancing well with less fatty foods.

White Wine Varietals

Different white wine varietals bring unique characteristics that can enhance your churrasco dining experience, especially when you have fattier cuts of meat.

  • Chardonnay: A fuller-bodied white like an oaked Chardonnay pairs wonderfully, complementing the rich flavors with its creamy texture.
  • Riesling: The wine’s fruitiness and subtle sweetness can offset the savory profile of churrasco, especially if the meat is heavily seasoned.

Beer and Other Beverages

Churrasco sizzling on the grill, surrounded by wine glasses and other beverages

When you select a beer to pair with churrasco, your personal preference plays a pivotal role. However, there are a few choices that stand out for their ability to enhance the flavors of the grilled meat.


  • Lager: A crisp lager is a popular choice, especially if your churrasco is heavily seasoned. Its lightness contrasts with the richness of the meat, creating a refreshing balance.
  • Pale Ale: If you prefer a beer with a bit more body, a pale ale offers a subtle bitterness that can complement the charred exterior of the meat.

Beverage Pairing Principles:

  • Contrast: Select beverages that provide a contrast to the meat’s flavors. A beverage with acidity like a pale ale can cut through the fattiness of the meat.
  • Complement: Alternatively, find a drink that complements the seasoning. If your churrasco has a spicy marinade, a beer with notes of citrus might pair well.

Dessert and Sweet Pairing Options

A table set with churrasco, wine, and various beverages for pairing

When you indulge in churrasco, complementing the savory taste with sweet pairings for dessert can elevate your dining experience.

Selecting the right dessert wine is key to enhancing the flavors of both the sweet treat and the wine.

For a harmonious match with dark chocolate, consider opting for a ruby port.

Its deep, berry-like flavors resonate well with the bitterness of the chocolate, creating a balanced profile on your palate.

Tawny port, aged in wooden barrels, is known for its nutty nuances.

This wine harmonizes delightfully with sweet foods that feature caramel or toffee notes, as it mirrors and intensifies the complex flavors.

Below is a simple guide to help you match dessert wines with common sweet endings after your churrasco meal:

Sweet TreatDessert Wine Suggestion
Dark ChocolateRuby Port
Caramel DessertsTawny Port
Fruit TartsMoscato
Creamy DessertsSweet White Wine

When serving Moscato, with its light and fruity essence, pair it with lighter desserts such as fruit tarts to emphasize its refreshing profile.

Dessert wines like Moscato or a well-chilled sweet white wine can be especially pleasing with creamy desserts, where their sweetness matches the richness of the dish without overwhelming your senses.

Remember to serve your dessert wines at the right temperature to maximize their character.

A general rule for port is to serve it slightly below room temperature, enhancing both its flavor and your overall dessert pairing experience.

Incorporating Regional Drinks

A table set with churrasco, wine, and regional drinks. Glasses clinking, smoke rising from the grill

When you pair churrasco, a traditional Brazilian barbecue, with wine and beverages, consider celebrating the spirit of the dish by incorporating regional drinks that complement the flavors.

You may want to explore drinks that share the South American roots of churrasco, or venture into global regions for a broader experience.

South American Wines

  • Malbec: Bold with a fruity profile, it’s an Argentinian staple known for pairing well with red meat.
  • Carmenere: Chile’s star varietal offers spice and dark-fruited notes, enhancing the grilled nature of churrasco.

Sparkling Choices

For a contrasting palate cleanser, sparkling wines from various regions can be an excellent choice:

  • Champagne: From France, its crisp acidity cuts through the churrasco’s richness.
  • Cava: Spain’s answer to Champagne, allows for a bubbly experience without overshadowing the smokey flavors.

Rosé and Lighter Reds

Sometimes a lighter touch is desired, especially with more delicately seasoned churrasco cuts:

  • Dry Rosé: Offers a refreshing companion to lighter churrasco fare.
  • Grenache: This varietal balances sweet barbecue flavors with a subtle, spicy undertone.
  • Sangiovese: Italian in origin, it stands up to heartier cuts with its robust structure.

White Wine Options

Do not overlook white wines; certain types bring out the best in marinated or lightly seasoned meats:

  • Muscadet: A dry French wine, ideal for complementing herby or citrusy marinades.
  • Chablis: Another French variety, provides a lean and minerally profile that can elevate the churrasco experience.

The Role of Aromas and Textures

A sizzling churrasco grilling over hot coals, surrounded by glasses of red wine and refreshing beverages, creating an enticing blend of aromas and textures

When you pair churrasco with wine and beverages, the aromas and textures of both the food and drink are pivotal in shaping the gustatory experience.

Understanding how these factors interplay can greatly enhance your enjoyment of this culinary pairing.


Aromas can evoke memories and emotions, setting the stage for your dining experience. Churrasco typically exudes savory scents of grilled meat, often carrying a smoky note.

  • Apple: For a refreshing pairing, select a wine with a crisp apple aroma. This can complement the smokiness of churrasco with a clean, fruity essence.
  • Blackberry: A red wine that hints at blackberry pairs well with the bold flavors of churrasco, enhancing the meatiness with a dark, ripe fruitiness.


Texture in food and beverages relates to the physical sensations in your mouth, which are equally as influential as flavor.

  • Buttery: A buttery chardonnay, with its creamy texture, could soften the charred exterior of churrasco, creating a harmonious counterpoint.
  • Crispness: On the other hand, you might enjoy the interplay of textures by pairing your churrasco with a tannin-rich red wine. The astringency cuts through the fattiness of the meat.

By thoughtfully pairing aromatic profiles and contrasting textures, you can create a well-balanced dining experience that delights your senses.

Remember to consider both elements when selecting your wine or beverage to ensure a complementing duo that elevates your churrasco.

Advice from a Sommelier

As a sommelier, your expertise extends beyond merely suggesting wines; it involves understanding the harmonious relationship between food and drink.

When selecting a wine to accompany churrasco, a flavorful grilled meat, consider both the cut of meat and how it’s prepared.

Personal Preference:

Your taste plays a significant role in the experience. Before seeking recommendations, reflect on whether you favor bold reds, crisp whites, or perhaps a unique varietal from a local wine shop.

Red Wine Recommendations:

  • For a fatty cut: Choose a full-bodied red wine. Varietals like Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon can stand up to the rich flavors.
  • For a leaner cut: Opt for medium-bodied wines like Merlot, which complement the meat without overwhelming it.
Type of Churrasco CutRecommended Wine
FattyFull-bodied red (Malbec)
LeanMedium-bodied red (Merlot)

White Wine and Rosé:

  • Not commonly paired with red meat, yet a bold Chardonnay or a dry Rosé can provide a refreshing counterpoint to the smoky flavors if red wine isn’t to your taste.

Additional Beverages:

  • Consider a craft beer with caramel notes or even a classic caipirinha to elevate your dining experience.

Remember, the perfect pairing also takes into account the seasoning and marinade used.

Spicy or bold marinades might pair well with wines that have a fruity or spicy profile, whereas simple salt and pepper seasoning aligns with more straightforward wine characteristics.

Non-Alcoholic Pairings

When indulging in the rich flavors of churrasco, choosing the right non-alcoholic beverage can enhance your dining experience. Here are confident and knowledgeable recommendations to pair non-alcoholic drinks with your churrasco meal.

For Sweet Foods:

If your churrasco includes sweet glazes or sauces:

  • Iced Tea: A classic choice, offering a refreshing counterbalance with its crisp nature. It cuts through the sweetness while complementing the smoky essence of the meat.
  • Sparkling Water: Infused with fruit flavors, this can cleanse your palate and underscore the sweetness without overwhelming the senses.

For Lighter Foods:

Accompanying sides that are lighter, such as salads or grilled vegetables:

  • Lemonade: Its citrus zest works wonders in cutting through the outside’s char while not overpowering delicate flavors.
  • Herbal Teas: Chamomile or mint teas can provide a soothing, subtle contrast to lighter fare.

General Beverage Pairing Tips:

  • Consider the preparation style. Grilled or smoky churrasco asks for beverages with enough character to stand up to the robust flavors.
  • Temperature matters. Cooler drinks contrast the heat of freshly grilled meats, providing a refreshing sensation.
  • Match intensity. Heavily seasoned meats pair nicely with assertively flavored drinks such as ginger ale.

Pairing by the Seasons

A table set with churrasco, wine, and beverages, surrounded by seasonal decorations

When selecting wine and beverages to pair with your churrasco, consider the season, as it can influence the seasoning, flavor profiles, and accompaniments that harmonize with the meat.

Spring and Summer: During warmer months, you’re likely to prefer lighter, more refreshing wine selections.

A well-chilled Rosé or a vibrant Sauvignon Blanc complement the lighter marinades and herbs often used in spring and summer.

They cut through the richness of churrasco without overwhelming the delicate flavors of seasonal accompaniments like fresh salads or grilled vegetables.

  • Spring Suggestion:
    • Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
    • Seasoning: Herbs such as oregano or thyme
    • Temperature: Chilled (around 50°F for whites)
  • Summer Suggestion:
    • Wine: Dry Rosé
    • Seasoning: Citrus-infused marinades
    • Temperature: Chilled

Autumn and Winter: In cooler seasons, your palate may lean towards wines with more body and warmth.

A robust Malbec or a spicy Shiraz pairs perfectly with boldly flavored churrasco, complementing heartier accompaniments like root vegetables or spiced rice dishes.

The rich, dark fruit notes of these wines resonate with the meat’s deep flavors. Serve at a warmer temperature to bring out the full flavor profile.

  • Autumn Suggestion:
    • Wine: Malbec
    • Seasoning: Smoky paprika or cumin
    • Temperature: Slightly chilled to room temperature (60-65°F for reds)
  • Winter Suggestion:
    • Wine: Shiraz
    • Seasoning: Robust garlic or black pepper marinades
    • Temperature: Room temperature

Remember, serving temperature is key, so adjust accordingly to the wine type and ambient temperature to ensure the best pairing experience with your churrasco.

Advanced Pairing Techniques

A sizzling churrasco grills over hot coals, while glasses of red wine and refreshing beverages wait on a rustic wooden table

When pairing churrasco with wine and beverages, the objective is to enhance both the meal and the drink through thoughtful contrast and complement of flavors and textures.

Texture & Weight:

  • Aim for balance. Heavier cuts of churrasco call for full-bodied wines like Malbec that can match their weight.
  • For leaner cuts, a medium-bodied Rioja offers a suitable match without overpowering the meat’s delicate texture.

Flavor Intensity:

  • Match the intensity. The robust flavors of grilled churrasco deserve equally bold wines; a peppery Zinfandel can stand up to the intense taste.


  • Utilize acidity to cut through the fat. A wine with good acidity, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, can slice through the richness, refreshing your palate.


  • Create contrast for excitement. The smokiness of churrasco paired with a slightly chilled, fruity Garnacha provides a refreshing counterbalance.

Pairing Table Example:

Churrasco CutWine/Beverage PairingReasoning
Full-BodiedMalbecMatches the weight and enhances the meat’s flavors
Lean CutRiojaComplements without overwhelming
Fatty CutCabernet SauvignonAcidity cuts through richness
SmokedGarnachaContrast highlights both elements

Experimenting with Side Dishes

A table set with churrasco, wine, and various beverages for pairing

When complementing churrasco with side dishes, your options can beautifully round out the meal. Consider these carefully curated dishes that align with the robust flavors of the grilled meat.


  • Grilled Shrimp: A zesty accompaniment, this enhances the churrasco with a different texture and a hint of the sea.
  • Ceviche: A tangy and fresh seafood delight that adds a light, acidic counterpoint to the grilled flavors.


  • Roast Chicken: Infusing the chicken with a herb marinade, it makes for a juicy and flavorful pairing with churrasco.


  • Grilled Vegetables: Smoky and charred veggies complement the rich tones of the meat.
  • Starchy Sides: Embrace root vegetables like roasted sweet potatoes or cassava to balance your plate.

Spicy Dishes:

  • Chili: Introduce a spicy chili to your churrasco night. The heat harmonizes with the savory meat.
  • Jalapeño Cornbread: A slight kick with a sweet note to please your palate.

Table of Complementary Flavors:

Side DishFlavor NotePairing Benefit
Grilled ShrimpZesty, OceanicTextural contrast, fresh sea essence
Roast ChickenSavory, HerbyMoist and rich supplement to churrasco
ChiliSpicy, BoldHeat to match the intense meat flavor
Jalapeño CornbreadSweet, SpicyCombines sweetness with a spice kick

Frequently Asked Questions

A table set with various churrasco dishes and an assortment of wine and beverages, with a banner reading "Frequently Asked Questions" in the background

In this section, you will find specific information about the best wines and beverages to pair with a churrasco meal. These selections are based on enhancing the flavors of the grilled meat and providing an excellent dining experience.

Which wines are recommended to complement a churrasco meal?

To complement a churrasco meal, look for bold red wines that can stand up to the rich flavors of the grilled meat, such as Malbec, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

What characteristics make Malbec a suitable choice for pairing with Brazilian barbecue?

Malbec is known for its full body and dark fruit flavors, which match well with the smoky and robust taste of Brazilian barbecue, especially when the meat is seasoned with garlic and herbs.

Can you suggest any white wines that pair well with churrasco?

For those who prefer white wine, opt for a full-bodied Chardonnay with mild oak influences or an off-dry Viognier that can balance the meat’s smokiness.

What are the best full-bodied red wines to serve with a skirt steak?

When serving skirt steak, the best full-bodied red wines would include those with a higher tannin content such as Tannat or a robust Zinfandel to cut through the meat’s fattiness.

How do I pair wine with the spicy and rich flavors typical of Brazilian cuisine?

Pair wines with moderate alcohol levels and ripe fruit flavors, such as a Shiraz or a red blend with Carmenere, to harmonize with the spicy and rich flavors of Brazilian cuisine without overwhelming the palate.

Are there any classic cocktails that enhance the experience of eating churrasco?

Classic cocktails like the Caipirinha or a smoky Old Fashioned can enhance the churrasco eating experience. They introduce refreshing and complementary flavors that cleanse the palate.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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