There are regional differences and preferences regarding types of sauces and sauce bases. Southern sauces are typically vinegar and pepper-based, while South Carolinians prefer mustard. In the Midwest and Texas as well as farther west, the sauces are most often tomato-based and spicy. In the far West, fresh herbs and citrus fruits are used.
Additionally, there are Asian barbecue sauces, and some that use alcohol like Jim Beam Bourbon or Zinfandel wine for flavoring. Specialty sauces include one designed specifically for game, and another white barbecue sauce for fish and poultry. The chiles in some of these sauces vary from mild jalapenos to fiery habañeros and African bird peppers. However, the tomato and ketchup-based types still outsell all others.
One thing almost all these sauces have in common is a sweetener, which can be sugar (white or brown,) honey, molasses, or even maple syrup. Because sugars tend to burn easily, sauces should only be used during the last hour of cooking. This is especially true with tomato-based sauces which will blacken long before the meat is done.
All of these sauces provide an easy way to prepare tasty dishes in a relatively short period of time. While it’s difficult to find the time to prepare and simmer your own sauces these days, you can quickly turn a commercial product into your own signature sauce by adding ingredients such as chiles, hot pepper sauces, ginger, or even fruits.