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The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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Smoke-A-Licious BBQ

Smoke-A-Licious BBQ

Just because the San Diego Chargers are not living up to pre-season expectations doesn’t mean your tailgate should follow suit. A well chosen wine with your pre-game barbeque might just make you a parking lot MVP.

Modern styles of wine offer a delicious alternative to beer with traditional low and slow barbeque, and one that might make your cooler a little it lighter too. Now more than ever wine has a place next a steaming hot plate of slow cooked smoked meat slathered in sauce.

When pairing wine with food, the first and overriding issue is matching the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. Modern wine style has higher alcohol and more pronounced oak influences. Higher alcohol and more oak, American oak in particular, equates to heavier wines which can stand up to the massive flavors produced during the smoking process.

Most wine professionals suggest zinfandel as the classic choice to pair with barbeque, and quite frankly it is a great option. Zinfandel’s jam-like fruit character and predisposition to working well with American oak make it a natural partner.

That being said, zinfandel does have its drawbacks. First of all, they come in a wide variety of styles so finding the right bottle is sometimes a challenge. Also, zinfandel can be extremely high in alcohol which exacerbate the sometimes spicy flavors of barbeque sauce throwing the dish, and your palate, out of whack.

For my money, Argentinean malbec is the new leading wine to pair with smoked barbeque. Generally speaking, these wines are relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and consistently similar in style offering generous American oak, dense fruitiness, and a full body. Most retailers will have a number of these modern wines to choose from, with excellent versions costing around $15.

A properly paired wine enhances and lengthens the flavors you experience. In this instance, creamy American oak plays with the sweet smokiness of the meat while concentrated plum and blackberry flavors inherent in malbec intermingle with the rich barbeque sauce all combining in a way that will make your tongue twist.

If you want to try pairing wine with low and slow barbeque but don’t want to invest the 12 hours it takes to smoke a brisket, head on out to The Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine Saturday, October 17 for the 5th annual “Smokin’ in the Park” barbeque competition and let the pros do the cooking for you.

The award winning San Diego based Smoke-A-Licious barbeque team will again be participating in this year’s festivities. “Barbeque is just another form of good food, just like people that have a passion for good wine,” said Smoke-A-Licious Pit Master Dave Vindiola. “The complex flavors of both items work well together.”

So grab a bottle of malbec from Argentina and see for yourself how wonderful wine can be with barbeque. Your food, and the Charger struggles, will both be a little easier to swallow.

For more information on Smokin’ in the Park and Smoke-A-Licious visit www.viejasbbq.com and www.smokealicious.com.

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  1. By A Feast of Barbeque and Wine – theCorkHead.com on 10/23/09 at 8:16 am

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