Summertime… and the grilling is easy…
Oops. Sorry. Sometimes I subconsciously meld Gershwin and barbecuing. But you’ll never have that problem if you follow these tips for pairing wine with barbecue fare…
- Take your time.
Barbecued food attains the height of culinary hedonism when it has been slow-cooked. It’s not unusual to encounter restaurants that cook their brisket and/or pulled pork for upwards of 16 hours. For us home grillers, setting aside six hours for ribs and three hours for chicken to cook can result in some really tasty food. Great BBQ can’t be rushed.
- Wood is good.
While charcoal is the preferred heat provider of most grillers, you can add a whole new dimension to the flavors of your barbecued foods by cooking over wood — preferably chunks (as opposed to chips) of oak.
- Spice is nice.
Experienced grillers will tell you that the only spices necessary are salt and pepper. But depending on your personal preferences, other spices — including ones that add a little “heat” — can enhance the flavor spectrum and add personality to the meat being grilled. Some markets and butcher shops will even apply a spice rub for you, on request.
When “spicing up” barbecue, the best wine-pairing partner is Zinfandel, like those found in the Zinfandel Country Select Collection. Zinfandel is both spicy and “jammy,” characteristics that complement that spicy quality of the meat and the “char” of the grill.
- Sauce it up.
For some people, barbecue isn’t barbecue without some sauce. But keep in mind that there are several different styles of sauce, so making a single wine-pairing suggestion is next to impossible.
That said, certain wines are better suited for pairing with well-sauced BBQ than others, like those in the Unbeatable BBQ Pairings Collection. In each case, it’s the mouthwatering acidity of the wine, comingling with the char of the grill, which creates a chorus of complementary flavors.
The kind of compelling chorus you’ll hear in almost any Gershwin tune.
This spring and summer, I plan to fire up the grill and crank up the music (sometimes Gershwin, sometimes Gaga) as often as possible… and to enhance the experience with some great wines.