Image taken from can almost taste the hot dog just pulled from the grill, laden with sauerkraut and drizzled with mustard. Excuse us while we wipe the drool from the keyboard….

While we don’t have our Labor Day plans finalized yet, we know the weekend will consist of two very important things…barbecue and alcohol.

When it comes to barbecues there are so many wines and beers that complement and enhance the smoky, spicy flavors that the grill almost magically imparts on food. To make those flavors shine, here are some suggestions for BBQ wine pairin’…

Hot Dogs and Chianti: Don’t save the Chianti for just Italian food. This strong, bold wine made from the Sangiovese grape goes well with seasoned foods and will bring out the spices in the hot dog.

Try: Montellori Chianti 2002 (Italy): $11.00

fin-medallion.jpgHot Dogs and Beer: You can’t beat a classic, and the beer and hot dog combo is one to be reckoned with. If you want to mix things up with a beer that has the effervescence and complexity of champagne, try this triple-fermented little number from Quebec.

Try: La Fin Du Monde $9.00/per bottle (bottle is approx. 4 glasses)

Hamburger and Chilean Cabernet: If you're going for the beef (hehehe), a glass of Chilean Cabernet will be a great addition to that burger. The pepper and berry notes of the wine will spice up your burger and awaken the taste buds.

Try: 2002 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua (Chile) $14.99

Beef/Pork Ribs and Riesling or Beaujolais: For those pain seekers who like their ribs hot and spicy, a great way to cool off the mouth is with a soft and slightly sweet Riesling from Australia. Or if you want something a little different, try a chilled Beaujolais from France. The fruitiness of the wine will balance the spice from the meat.

Try: 2002 Kirrihill Companions Riesling, $13
Try: Georges DuBoeuf Fleurie Flower Label 1994 (France) $11

On the other hand, if you’re having honey BBQ or a sweeter sauce on your pork ribs, go for a racy dry white like Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – that way the sweetness of the wine does not compete with the sweetness of the sauce.

Try: 2002 Montgras Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley (Chile) $7.00

Grilled Vegetables/veggie burger and Pinot Noir: Vegetarians don’t need to miss out on the BBQ fun. Try pairing your veggie burger with a Pinot Noir. The acidity in the wine will stand up to the vegetables and the berry and earth notes will complement most vegetable flavors.

Try: Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2001, $35.00

Steak/Lamb and Shiraz: Perhaps one of the great marriages of food and wine is the Shiraz/Syrah and steak combo. This bold red wine has the depth, spices and fruit to stand up to any meat. For those who have never tried this pairing be prepared for BBQ nirvana.

Try: Hope Estate Shiraz, Hunter Valley (Australia) 2000, $13.50

Now if you can’t get away this Labor day for some fresh off the grill barbeque worry not. Just meet Gothamist down at Virgil’s Real BBQ on West 44th Street (between Broadway and Sixth Avenue). We’ll be the ones in the elastic waist pants.

- Tamara Lover