New Kings of Summer? Wines & Liquors are Taming the BBQ Flame


By Laura Petrosky (@chronic_ally)

A groupclip_image002 of friends, a grilled steak and a beer – sounds like an unshakable American tradition, right? As eight out of ten Americans fire up their grill this summer, the wine and spirits industry is seeing a huge opportunity to make us rethink what to drink while we barbeque. According to Wine Folly, 20 bottles of beer are consumed for every 1 bottle of wine in the United States. Worldwide, beer is mentioned eight more times than wine, and 125 (!) more times than cocktails, on social media in combination with Tweets about barbeque (check out the full “Social Food Series” infographic here).

How are wine and spirits brands trying to change American drinking habits and convert devotees of the “cold one” to drink less beer with their burgers, brats and baby back ribs? Here are two examples of how it can be done.

Vibrant Rioja Wine (client) tames the Flame

Spaniards already know that the medium-bodied wines of Rioja pair well with barbeque. In order to promote Rioja wine as the perfect summer grilling vino in the U.S., our team kicked off an integrated marketing and PR campaign called “Rioja Tames the Flame.” It all started in our test kitchen, where we created one-of-a-kind dry rubs to pair with signature Rioja wine styles.


A recipe booklet followed, giving us a consumer-friendly guide for summer grilling that journalists would find useful as inspiration for barbeque roundup stories, and retailers would love to hand out to consumers. The multi-channel execution included a high-end creative delivery to select wine and food writers, retail partnerships across the country (like this one with JJ Buckley), as well as a fun media and consumer event at the rooftop of The DL in New York. The beauty of the program lies in its simplicity and the details: The recipes are easy to prepare and the pairing suggestions simple to follow, even for wine novices. Retailers can choose from a wide array of custom case cards, stickers, web banners and counter cards to fit their stores’ needs and the media mailing included Vibrant Rioja-branded stainless steel grilling tools and a customizable meat branding iron, just to name a few knick knacks.

Jägermeister Goes Whole Hog with BBQ

The iconic German shot brand is hoping to make inroads to the American barbeque pits by becoming a recipe ingredient this summer, much like bourbon has in the past. Once you buy a bottle of “Jäger” for your glaze, you might as well have a shot of it too, right? With the “Charred, Earn your Place at the Pit” competition, avid grill masters have the opportunity to explore Jägermeister flavors in grill recipes. Chef Chris Santos, judge on The Food Network’s Chopped, leads a judging panel to select the winner who gets a BBQ-scorched trip for two to New York City to sample grilled offerings from the nation’s top barbecue eateries and chefs.


With wine and spirits brands upping their game in the grilling arena, beer brands need to keep up with engaging consumer programming. In “How America Drinks,” The Atlantic noted that cheap beer brands are losing to craft brews, so communication teams for the PBRs of this world should schedule their next brainstorm.


Do you know any beer, wine or spirits brands doing a great marketing job surrounding summer grilling? If so, let us know in the comment section.

[Images courtesy of Sales Mom Network, Refined Guy, JaegerUSA, Save on Brew]

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