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Winecast 65 – Bar-B-Que Wines

Winecast 65 – Bar-B-Que Wines

by Tim Elliott on July 5, 2006

This month Wine Blogging Wednesday returns to it’s normal first Wednesday of the month and host Vivi’s Wine Journal has picked a very appropriate theme for July: Barbecue Wines (or is it BBQ, or Bar-B-Que?). The history of BBQ appears to be an American invention, but there seems to be some debate on this if you look closer. Whatever the derivation, today the term means either the slow cooked meats prepared across the southern U.S. from pork, beef or chicken or grilled meats in general. I took the latter definition for the purposes of this post and podcast and chose three wines I think would pair well with summer grilling. Different than in the other months I have participated in this event, my three wines will be a white, a rose and a red. All quite dry and loaded with fruit flavors to stand up to the heartiest summer fare.

Since yesterday was Independence Day here in the U.S., my grilling choice was classic Wisconsin brats and traditional side-dishes, potato and macaroni salad. Whatever wines I select, they would need enough acidity to cut through the mayonnaise in the salads and brown mustard on the brats. I selected two different kinds of brats, the common “beer brats” and a new-age chicken with bacon and swiss cheese. Both presented an interesting flavor profile to deal with in matching wines, where in past years I’ve just reached for an IPA or dark beer.

Of course, the best wine for Bar-B-Que or grilled meats depends upon the type of meat roasted. If I made steaks, for instance, I would have probably selected three red wines to match here. But since I had foods that were not overpowering in their flavors, I had a pretty open spectrum of wines to choose from. My strategy was to find wines with enough flavor to stand up to the food, but also enough acidity to enhance the flavors and not overpower the food. The rule of thumb at this time of year is to choose a dry rose, so my first match was a Wolffer Rosé 2005 the winery sent me recently as a sample. You probably remember Wolffer from my interview with winemaker Roman Roth in Winecast 56. Their rosé is made from 48% Merlot, 39% Chardonnay, 8% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon with the red grapes given a short time on the skins to minimize the color. The wine was totally made in stainless steel to accentuate the freshness of the fruit and retails for a reasonable $14 a bottle. This rosé is salmon in color with aromas of peach and fresh flowers. Rich and crisp in the mouth, showing cherry and citrus with a bit of white pepper on the dry finish. A very nice rosé for a hot summer’s day and nice accompaniment to my grilling yesterday. In fact, this might be the most versatile wine for grilled meats in the round-up. 11.5% ABV. Finished with natural cork. Score: 8.5/10

I usually don’t think of white wine and grilling, but I do think about white wines on hot summer days so I thought I would pick one from my cellar to see how it might work here. I’ve always liked the aggressiveness of Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from New Zealand, but I didn’t have any bottles handy from that country. What I did have was the 2005 vintage of Veramonte’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley of Chile. I first tried this brand in my round-up on Winecast 12 last year and it has made it into my cellar ever since as a great value for hot summer days selling for $8-9 a bottle. The wine is light straw with a slight green hue. Fresh hay, lime and pineapple aromas with some gooseberry reminiscent of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. On the palate, there is tart grapefruit flavors with nice acidity to match with food. The match was especially good with the chicken brats adding an nice counter-point to the bacon and swiss cheese flavors. I’d recommend this one for grilled pork too, as long as there is not spicy BBQ sauce involved in the preperation. 13.5% ABV. Stelvin closure. Score: 8/10

Finally, I wanted to try a fruit forward red wine. After considering Syrah/Shiraz, I fell back on my old favorite Zinfandel, selecting a 2003 Chiarello Family Vineyards, Zinfandel, “Giana,” which sells for $28 a bottle. I first tasted Chiarello Zin at ZAP this past January and was very impressed with all their wines. You might recognize the family name from owner Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style TV show, book and website. If anyone knows how to make food-friendly wines, it’s Mr. Chiarello, but I have to say that you need a steak or, better yet, Mexican food to match with this Zin. The wine is garnet-purple in color with powerful aromas of blackberry, plum and licorice. In the mouth it is substantial with blackberry jam, black pepper, spices and silky tannins. A hedonists Zin that somehow balances the substantial alcohol with fruit. Delicious, but overpowering to my 4th of July brats. 16.1% ABV. Finished with natural cork. Score: 9/10

So what did I learn this month? That a range of wines go well with grilled meats. If I had some true Bar-B-Que to match here, I think only the Chiarello Zin and Wolffer Rosé would have made the cut. For best wine, it easily goes to Chiarello Family Vineyards, Zinfandel, “Giana” 2003 and best value to the versatile Wolffer Rosé 2005. Thank to Joel over at Vivi’s Wine Journal for hosting this month and a great theme. I’m looking forward to seeing what founder Lenn has in store for the two-year anniversary of WBW next month.

Show Notes:
00:21 – Welcome and show theme
01:10 – Matching wine with Bar-B-Que or grilled meats
03:56 – Veramonte, Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile 2005 ($9)
04:58 – Wolffer Estate Vineyards, Rosé, Long Island, New York 2005 ($14/sample) +
06:20 – Chiarello Family Vineyards, Zinfandel, “Giana” 2003 ($28) *
07:50 – Best of tasting
07:58 – Best value
08:15 – Wrap-up and contact details
08:50 – Next show theme

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Copyright 2006 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed to the public under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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  • Tim,

    The BBQ is surely the oldest form of cooking known to man! It was probably invented 5 minutes after the discovery of fire 😉

    Great write up as usual.

  • Tim

    Ha! You are most likely correct on that one Edward. I suspect grilled meat is ancient with BBQ a relative recent evolution of the cooking technique, but I guess than depends on your definition of BBQ in the first place 🙂

  • I agree with you on going with the whites (and Rose’s) during the summer. In Ohio when it’s 90 and 90 (heat and humidity) the red wines are un-drinkable if you are outside. If you want reds, stay in the cellar where it’s hopefully 60 degrees!

  • Tim

    Agreed Jens, but I had to give that Zin a try 😉 My cellar is set to 58′ F, so it was cool for a while and our 4th was unseasonably cool this year… thanks for stopping by!

  • That Chiarello Zin sounds great – we usually cover wines in the $10 and below range at Box Wines, but I now have something to buy when I’m in the mood to splurge. I’m a big fan of zins, but I don’t think there’s another varietal that has so much variation between wineries.

  • Tim

    Both Chiarello Zins (Giana and Felicia) are delicious and well worth their price. If you can find it, pick up a bottle and see for yourself. I also agree with you on the wide range of Zinfandel styles. It is a very versatile grape.

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