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Red Wine and BBQ [moved from Austin board]

Is it just me, or does anyone else enjoy a Merlot and BBQ?

I know, I know I'm at risk of being called not really Texan. But I assure you folks I was born and breed right here in the Beer and BBQ Nation. As a matter of fact, my father cooked all of my life with him on the BBQ cook off circuit. So I know my Q. But lately I've been spending lots of time in Italy and my wine taste is growing. Breaking all Lone Star Nation rules I started started mixing the vino and the beef. And to my pleasure they match well. A great slice of brisket and a nice merlot are perfect for each other.
Am I alone here, Should I turn in my boots and tongs?

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  1. Hmm.... might give that a try. Being allergic to hops, I don't have beer with BBQ either. Usually a soda or root beer. Heck, I never though peperoni pizza and ranch dressing would be good...

    1. Personally, I think a red Zinfandel goes much better with BBQ - it has more spice that can keep up with the usual spicing of BBQ. Merlot tends to be too soft to go with the bold flavors of BBQ. But that's just me.

      But yes, in general, I think wine pairs very well with BBQ.

      15 Replies
      1. re: foreverhungry

        Lots of people like a good Rose with BBQ. Typically, you are in a warm environment when BBQing....a good rose will give you the tannins for the pairing, but can be slightly chilled. Oftentimes, a slight sweetness pairs very well with a spicy rub.

        but only wimps drink rose, right?

        1. re: rudeboy

          I'm a big fan of roses, but quality roses are very difficult to find in the US, at least outside of California. Specifically I don't like the sweetness in many roses that are found in the US - the better French ones are what they should be (at least in my opinion) - the true mid ground between a classic white that's not too big or sweet, yet still has a body, such as a sauvignon blanc, and a classic red that also has a body and structure, but not too much spiciness or tanins, such as a merlot or pinot noir. US roses tend to stray into the fruity-and-sweet realm, which is where many American wine palates are.

          To a large extend, it depends on the BBQ. A North Carolina pulled pork, with its tangy mouth-puckering vinegar sauce, or a KC style ribs with its thick, sweet and smoky BBQ would obliterate a rose. If you're talking BBQ chicken, fish, or cuts of red meat that get the smoke treatment but aren't heavily seasoned or sauced, yeah, a solid rose is a great choice. The great thing is, everyone has a different palate, and thus a different opinion.

          1. re: foreverhungry

            Well said, FH.......my mind immediately went to Texas smoked brisket, based on the OP comments.

            I've had several great roses here lately, at tastings here and there. While I agree that most US roses are too much on the sweet side (I've been burned just buying them off the shelf), many vintners do appreciate the dry rose....and try to emulate them.

            But even one that's a little too sweet for drinking alone tends to at least get along with a dry rub brisket with some spice to it.

            1. re: rudeboy

              True, off the shelf tend to be sweet, and you're right, there are several US vintners that have very good to excellent roses, it's just a matter of finding them.

              Yes, if one is looking specifically for wine to drink with a brisket, a lighter red or a off-the-shelf, well-chilled-but-not-cold rose would be a great summer pairing.

            2. re: foreverhungry

              Not sure where you all are shopping for wine but good, dry roses are out there and they are not hard to find. The Austin Wine Merchant had over 15 dry roses in last week and specs always has a good selection as well. Even HEB carries a few.

              For BBQ I would stay away from any tannic wines. Salt and tannins are a bad pair. Dry rose is a great choice and really not hard to find!!

              -----
              Austin Wine Merchant
              512 W 6th St, Austin, TX

              1. re: bubbly33

                Not a wine expert and as a designated "troll" I can see the combination of BBQ'd brisket or other meat such as pork, pairing well with a tart bubbly such as prosecco or a cava. I hadn't even considered that until the rose was mentioned. Makes my mouth water.

              2. re: foreverhungry

                >>> I'm a big fan of roses, but quality roses are very difficult to find in the US, at least outside of California. <<<
                Hmmmm . . . not in my experience

                  1. re: zin1953

                    They're all over New England, too. And fairly cheap, which is a bonus. There's pretty good drinkin' around 15 clams.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      We may have different tastes on roses. Personally, I prefer French style drier roses. I'm not a fan of the sweeter American roses that are easier to find. In the US, Bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigare is pretty good. On the French side, there are a couple Cote du Rhone's that are well balanced and have acidity, which most roses lack. Many of the Cote de Provence wines are very dry. But I've found, for my tastes anyway, that once you stray from the familiar, it's largely hit and miss with roses. There are some gret hits, but more often than not they are sweet and fruity. I also tend to not like American wine styles in general because they are more fruit forward - there are of course tons of exceptions, but the American wine palate drifts towards fruity, and when it comes to roses, it's even moreso. Finding dry, acidic roses that have some body takes work.

                      1. re: foreverhungry

                        Perhaps it's regional, but I was in my favorite wine store this weekend and there were, perhaps, 40 different French offerings. They're pretty easily sourced where I live.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          It could be regional. I'm in Minnesota. The 2 best wine stores here have about a dozen decent roses to choose from, most from France, with about 5 or 6 good ones, and maybe one very good one. 40 French roses, with probably lots of additional American roses, and a sprinkling from other countries, and you're probably talking about 75+ roses to choose from? That's an exceptional selection.

                          1. re: foreverhungry

                            Yes, quite exceptional, but I have a fantastic store near me (Boston area).

                        2. re: foreverhungry

                          >>> We may have different tastes on roses. Personally, I prefer French style drier roses. <<<

                          So do I.

                          >>> I'm not a fan of the sweeter American roses that are easier to find. <<<

                          Neither am I, but then again, -- once we cease speaking of jug wines and focus on varietal rosés -- many (but by no means all) California rosés are indeed dry. OTOH, most of California's blush wines are not.

                          >>> But I've found, for my tastes anyway, that once you stray from the familiar, it's largely hit and miss with roses. <<<

                          Obviously our experience in rosé wines differs, DESPITE the fact I was speaking of French (and Spanish) rosés in my previous post. There are literally dozens of excellent DRY rosés -- mostly from France and Spain, but from elsewhere, too (including California) -- available in *every* large American city I visit, and many offerings are available in every mid-sized city I visit.

                          Now, admittedly, I may not be able to find the exact specific rosé I'me looking for in every city I visit, but I have NEVER come away unable to find anything that wasn't delightfully delicious and dry . . .

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          1. re: zin1953

                            >>>Obviously our experience in rosé wines differs, DESPITE the fact I was speaking of French (and Spanish) rosés in my previous post. There are literally dozens of excellent DRY rosés -- mostly from France and Spain, but from elsewhere, too (including California) -- available in *every* large American city I visit, and many offerings are available in every mid-sized city I visit.<<<

                            I'm in Minneapolis. I just did a search of Haskell's website, one of the largest wine stores in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area - they have several locations, and specialize in French wines, though they have a good selection of others also. Haskell's only competitor for variety and quality is Surdyk's, which in some categories is better than Haskell's. Suffice it to say that most would consider it in the top 2 or 3 stores to purchase wine from.

                            In their "rose" category, there were 71 hits. 3 appear to be sparkling. At least 36 appear to be in the "blush/white zin/cranberry wine" category, or described as semi-dry. That leaves 32. Of those, about 6 that I've had are not dry, and though labeled as dry, I personally found very fruity and sweeter than I prefer. There are several on their site I have yet to try. But while their site is fairly inclusive, their in-store selection is more limited.

                            Which is why in my experience, finding a good selection of very good quality rose is difficult. Minneapolis isn't a small city, and even in the area's largest wine shop, the selection of good quality roses is limited to a dozen and a half, at best.

                            I agree, when visiting the right store, I can usually come away with something I like. But I've visited enough smaller stores in the Twin Cities area searching for a rose, and finding the same selection of a half dozen sweet and fruity roses. My postings above are clearly colored by the relatively small selection of quality roses available here.

                1. I have to say I enjoy a good red wine with my BBQ as well. I would never have thought to pair it, but on a trip to Napa we went to an upscale BBQ place that was all about the wine pairing. It was delicious. Thinking about it you do wine with steak, why not a good piece of smoked brisket. Also I think the smokiness of the meat can bring out undertones in and really compliment the wine. I say be a rebel and order wine. Maybe then BBQ joints may start offering a better wine selection :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: vant27

                    There's a long-standing tradition of serving wine with BBQ in many areas. In Argentina, steak grilled on wood so it takes on a very smoky character is a national dish, served with Malbec. Many restaurants in California served meats grilled on wood with wine.

                    The catch is that not all BBQ is the same. And not everyone's definition of BBQ is the same. To me, it means cooking with smoke. A gas grill isn't BBQ. Nor is simply cooking something over charcoal briquettes and adding bottled BBQ sauce. So for BBQ, we're talking anything from salmon cooked on alder wood, or a smoked brisket, or smoked sausages, or any other meat that's grilled over wood. Any of those are great paired with the right wine.

                    But for me, where wine stops being an option, is when a strong sauce is involved - North Carolina pulled pork, and ribs with sweet BBQ sauce are two examples. I think most wines would get lost in the strong vinegar sauce served with NC pulled pork or in the sweetness of most BBQ sauces. With those dishes, the dominant flavor often isn't the meat itself, but the sauce, and that doesn't play well with most wines. But that's just me. YMMV.

                    If you're talking about $10 bottles of Chardonnay to go with "BBQ chicken" or a $10 malbec to go with ribs, that's fine, but then it's not really pairing wine with BBQ. It's drinking wine with BBQ. Which are different - you can drink just about anything with just about any dish, but you won't be getting good flavor matches that bring out the best in both the dish and wine. But hey, on hot summer days, I've had a few glasses of a cheap red or white with something off the BBQ - but I wouldn't say they were good matches.

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      I definitely enjoy red wine with BBQ. I tried the Clos de la Siete Red Wine, from Argentina (a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Petite Verdot recommended to me by the Pit Master at Live Oak) and found it a perfect match to brisket and even pork that has only been lightly sauced. Best part is that it won't break the bank either!

                      1. re: foreverhungry

                        >>> There's a long-standing tradition of serving wine with BBQ in many areas. In Argentina, steak grilled on wood so it takes on a very smoky character is a national dish, served with Malbec. Many restaurants in California served meats grilled on wood with wine. <<<

                        Absolutely! But this wasn't how I, at least, interpreted the OP's post/question.

                        >>> But for me, where wine stops being an option, is when a strong sauce is involved - North Carolina pulled pork, and ribs with sweet BBQ sauce are two examples. I think most wines would get lost in the strong vinegar sauce served with NC pulled pork or in the sweetness of most BBQ sauces. With those dishes, the dominant flavor often isn't the meat itself, but the sauce, and that doesn't play well with most wines. <<<

                        Again, we agree!

                        (Just tossing in my 2¢, and no doubt worth far less . . . )

                    2. I will enjoy wine with BBQ too, but don't waste time drinking Merlot. Don't get me started.
                      Malbec and Zinfandel seem to be my favorites and I don't think you need to spend more than $11 on either to get a good one.
                      I think the comments about Proseco were spot-on. And again, you don't need to spend too much money to find a good one.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pikeman

                        I saw Sideways, too......but there's NO good merlots anywhere? I'm a contrarian- I started drinking merlot after I saw that movie.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          Perhaps verging off topic, but there are excellent merlots out there. Fantastic. Bordeaux is full of them. But they don't tend to go with BBQ (at least for me). For BBQ, malbec and zinfandel do tend to go well, because they are brash and spicy. For BBQ, I wouldn't spend more than $11 or $12 on one. But there are very good Zins for more. Not sure about Malbec.

                      2. Of course, the traditional crimson beverage pairing with BBQ is Big Red. Perhaps conditioned by this paradigm of sweet with smoky, when I go upscale with my brisket and sausage at home I like to serve Messina Hof's Beau, which is not sickly sweet as the red cream soda of my youth, but does have an easy, smooth and summer-fruity character to it that compliments the salty/creamy/crisp elements of central Texas 'que.

                        1. Hmmm . . . not being a Texan, perhaps I have a different take on it, but I have yet to find a red wine that goes well with BBQ. Beer? Yes! Dry rosé? Yes! Red wine? Uh, no -- especially if the BBQ is vinegar-based (Carolina), or is on the hotter side of things . . . the vinegar messes with the wine, as does the heat, so -- for me -- that's when beer is essential! But a good, spicy barbecue that isn't too hot? Now THAT is when a dry rosé can indeed be a beautiful thing . . . .

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: zin1953

                            Texas brisket and halbtrocken Blaufränkisch can be a good match, to my palette.

                          2. From what little experience I have w/ BBQ I agree w/ what others have said that BBQ served with sauce is probably not a good candidate for wine. Whether it's mustard, sweet, vinegary, etc the sauce won't play well with wine. Beer which leaves a bigger footprint on your palate works best with BBQ dressed in sauce. For undressed BBQ (like Texas brisket?) wine would have a better shot but to me nothing too tannic because brisket is lean and and there's little fat to mix w/ the tannins. Reds like Beaujolais or other light fruity reds would work and particularly considering typical BBQ sides like potato salad and coleslaw.

                            1. The only time I would consider drinking wine with BBQ is when you take the eucharist at the annual church pig roast. Even then there had better be a cold Shiner on hand to wash it down.

                              1. When I visited my cousin in Buda last fall we went to a place where the brisket had a major black pepper & salt rub on it. If I hadn't been with the kiddies and had access to a decent wine list, I probably would've gone with a Zin or red blend. As it was, unsweetened ice tea with lemon did the trick.

                                Remember, drink what you like. Sometimes the pairings that work for you might not be someone else's favorite. When I was in Oregon, I wanted to have a local Pinot and a mac n' cheese with bacon. Individually they were yummy, but not the best together.
                                Still finished both though ; )

                                Of the Texas wine I tried when I was out there,. Inwood Estates Tempranillo-Cabernet Blend was my favorite. Not sure if it'd be the best choice for BBQ, especially with sauce, but it sure was delicious.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                  The style of BBQ is very important. That said, I was at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic many years ago and there was a seminar led by Danny Meyer led a seminar pairing wine and BBQ. I can't remember where he got the BBQ from but I remember some of the wines. He had the attendees vote on their top three pairings. Champagne actually was the groups favorite, then a rose and then Shafer's Firebread (Super Tuscan/Cab Sangiovese blend) which is no longer available. Go figure....

                                  We usually opt for zin around our house and we don't use sweet sauces.