Baby Back Ribs in Smoky BBQ Sauce Recipe and Wine Pairing

Making your own “secret” BBQ sauce is what will take these baby back ribs from “good” to “finger-lickin’ great”! As for the wine, think “classic meets classic”: these ribs go exceptionally well with a good ol’ bottle of Bordeaux. 

What Are Baby Back Ribs?

Pork baby back ribs are shorter than spare ribs and come from the part of the ribs connected to the backbone. They’re around 3 to 6 inches and have about half an inch of meat. They are leaner and more tender than spare ribs. They tend to be more expensive, but the price difference is worth it!

Make sure to remove the tough membrane before marinating the ribs using this technique: 

Making Your Own “Secret” BBQ Sauce 

Trust us: once you’ve tried making your BBQ sauce, you’ll never go back to store-bought. There are many different versions of BBQ sauce available, but making your own means you get to decide how sweet, tangy or spicy you want it! Feel free to experiment, add, and take away until you get a barbecue sauce that tickles your taste buds every time. It’s quick, it’s easy and foolproof!

Wine Pairing for Baby Back Ribs

We recommend you keep it classic here: these baby back ribs could use a wine that makes its presence noticed. A Bordeaux such as this Château Saint-Hilaire has the structure and tannins to stand up to the intensely flavoured ribs: it’s complex, elegant and balanced, with earthy undertones that go well with the smoky flavours of the ribs.

Baby Back Ribs in Smoky BBQ Sauce Recipe and Wine Pairing

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Recipe by WineCollective Course: MainCuisine: North-AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
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  • 2-3 racks baby back ribs (depending on your appetite!)

  • 1-2 cans red ale

  • For the rub:
  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp dried thyme or oregano

  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • For the BBQ sauce:
  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

  • Extra needed
  • 1 handful wood chips

  • aluminum foil


  • 50 hours before serving: Make sure to remove the membrane from the baby back ribs (see the video above). Marinate the baby back ribs in red ale for around 48 hours in the refrigerator.
  • The previous night: Make the BBQ sauce. Combine the ingredients for the BBQ sauce in a saucepan and, over high heat, whisk to blend the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce. Reduce the heat once it comes to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Make it a bit thinner by adding more vinegar if your sauce has become too thick. Let it cool and refrigerate the sauce overnight.
  • 2 hours before serving: Soak the wood chips (such as hickory) in water.
  • Take the ribs out of the beer, pat the meat dry and rub on both sides with the spice rub. Double wrap each rack in aluminum foil and close tightly.
  • Preheat your grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350°F to 450 °F / 180 °C to 230 °C).
  • Place the ribs over medium heat, close the lid and cook for 1 hour, occasionally turning them over for even cooking. Be very careful not to pierce the foil.
  • Remove the packs from the grill, and let them rest for 10 minutes before carefully unpacking them. Discard the foil with the fat.
  • Baste the racks generously with BBQ Sauce
  • Drain the wood chips and add them to your grill’s smoker box (or whatever your type of grill instructs). Close the lid until the wood chips begin to smoke. Return the racks, bone-side down, to the grill and grill over direct heat for about 10 minutes, turning them over once or twice and basting with a bit more BBQ sauce. They should become lightly charred.
  • Remove the ribs from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes before portioning them and serving with the remaining BBQ Sauce.

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While this is a very meat-heavy recipe, not everything from the barbecue has to involve meat! Did you know you can grill your appetizer too? Check out the recipe for Grilled Snap Peas with Halloumi next!

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