This week we’ll look at red wines that are hearty enough to accompany grilled and smoked meats, and with a style that still tastes great while you’re cooking outdoors.
Try a new wine this week!
A barbecue lover’s “go-to” summertime wine
As a Memphis in May-certified barbecue judge, I never get tired of talking about the South’s favorite summer pastime. As a wine lover, I’m glad it tastes great with some of my favorite wines.
To some, barbecue means “throw it on the grill,” but to competition barbecuers it means cooking over indirect heat, “low and slow.” Low cooking temperatures for extended periods of time results in tender, “fall off the bone” ribs and shoulders. Of course, varying degrees of wood creates additional flavors.
What kind of wines go with this delicacy among delicacies? Aside from “red wines,” two considerations are: We usually barbecue in the summertime, when lighter wines, or at least wines that are less tannic and oaky usually show best, and red wine lovers want some character, not something insipid, even in warm weather.
Combining these two ideals gives us a red wine from a grape variety that offers hearty, robust flavors, but a wine made in a style that emphasizes fruit over backbone. By backbone I mean oak, tannin, earthiness—things other than fruit.
One of my all time favorite wines with summer barbecues is California zinfandel. They can be made in a variety of styles, from many parts of California, but choosing one I’d say something from Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. After all, it’s home to an annual zinfandel festival.
One zin I’ve enjoyed over the years is from a winery named Peachy Canyon. I especially like a simple, straightforward zinfandel they call “Incredible Red.” It retails for around $15, sometimes less. The style is fruit-centered, with lots of the brambleberry flavors associated with the grape, and little else in the way of oak and tannin to interfere.