A good barbecue sauce is a complex interplay of flavors, balanced among sweet, sour, salty, and savory.
Regional styles of barbecue sauces vary most in their sweetness. Starting in the east with Carolina barbecue, which is noted for its tart, vinegary emphasis. Mustard is another characteristic flavor of eastern barbecue sauce. The farther west you travel, barbecue sauce becomes thicker, more tomatoey, and sweeter.