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Thursday, April 1, 2010

WINE BANTER: Dust of the BBQ’s by John Haggard

Dust of the BBQ’s

Whether gas or charcoal, it’s time to dust off the Barbeque and welcome back family and friends. While there are few white wines that are going to pair with grilled barbequed foods, many of the richer, riper red wines such as zinfandels and red wine blends are a really good pairing to go with grilled meats.

A nice elegant rose is a great sipping wine for warmer Spring days and a perfect way to start the evening while the charcoals are warming and the sun is setting.
When grilling, it’s always a great idea to leave a third of the grill cool, meaning no charcoals or gas heat on that side of the grill, allowing there to be a cooler side of the grill to move the grilled meats and vegetables to.

A common question is what to pair with Barbeque? It really depends on what’s for dinner and what’s the preparation.

Answer: Grilled chicken in a barbeque sauce -

A great pairing to go with barbeque chicken is typically red wine that is fruit forward with ripened black fruit flavors and a not overly tannic fruit driven wine works well such as Mercier’s Merlot 2004 Mendocino Merlot ($42) or Moshin Vineyard’s Merlot 2006 from Dry Creek Valley (ret $23).

Answer: BBQ Oysters

Barbequed oysters pair well with stainless steel fermented wines such as Balletto’s Teresa’s Vineyard Stainless Steel Russian River Valley Chardonnay from 2007 which has been through a secondary fermentation creating malolactic acids or that “buttery quality” and still retaining a meyer lemon quality. Another white wine sometimes fermented in stainless steel would be sauvignon blanc. The often loire style white wine is a better pairing with its rich citrus flavors such as Atascedero Creek’s Russia River Valley Kent Ritchie Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009, just released,(ret $18-$20).

Answer: BBQ Pork with a sweet spicy sauce

While molasses marinade is one of the more common preparations that I am familiar with for pork, hoisin sauce is another great marinade and has a milder sweetness than the molasses and can be paired with burgundian pinot noirs as well as the more elegant pinot noirs such as one of my favorites by winemaker Nickolai Stez, Woodenhead Buena Tierra Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007 (which, recently won the Sonoma County’s Pigs and Pinot Event at the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, ret $60).

Answer: BBQ Beef

Barbeque beef pairs very well with really dark ripened fruit varietals like zinfandel, red wine blend and petite sirah. The sweeter the Barbeque sauce, the dryer the red wine should be. Marcucci Farms Fava Brother Vineyard 2006 Russian River Valley Zinfandel (ret $29.99) or Harvest Moon’s RandyZin Sonoma County Zinfandel 2007 ($19-$25) are perfect examples of big dry robust Zinfandels that pair well with barbeque beef. A great petite sirah is the Van Ruiten Petite Sirah from Lodi, 2008, (ret $20); an herbaceous dark red wine that shows root beer cola qualities and pairs well with all barbeque meats.

Answer: Grilled Vegetables

We start our barbeque season a little earlier in California before fresh corn on the cob is available. When summer comes, remember it’s always a good idea to leave corn on the cob in the husk and the husk will allow the corn to steam on the grill still giving it that great grilled flavor without drying out the corn. Right now, peppers, whether bell or spicy jalapeno, whatever your preference and what is available are a wonderful grilled vegetable to prepare – just make a very small slice at the top of the stem and grill the pepper of your choice. For spicy grilled peppers, complement them with a dry spicy Grenache and for the white wine lover, consider a demi-sec (semi-sweet) riesling – or a gewürztraminer such as Hook and Ladder’s Russian River gewürztraminer from 2008 (ret $15).

Happy barbequing – sharing a meal outside in our beautiful Sonoma is part of the great joy of where we live.

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.