First, don’t be afraid to serve your red wines with a slight chill on them. If your cellar is 55 degrees, serve them right out of the cellar. If not, put the wine in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving. We typically eat outdoors when grilling and it can get hot. A slight chill on your red wine makes it more refreshing, suppresses the perception of tannin and alcohol and generally makes it more pleasing on a warm day. Second, try and choose a wine high in fruit and low in tannin. This helps to complement the sweetness of any barbecue sauce while minimizing the chances of a over-accentuating smoky or grill flavors. Varieties like Malbec, Syrah (Shiraz) and Zinfandel work very well for this purpose. Sticking to wines from warmer climates (California, Argentina, Australia, etc.) will also keep the fruit content high in most wines. Three that I really like are:
Malbec, Ladera, Napa Valley 2008
This wine is hauntingly dark in color. It is rich with floral aromatics followed by black cherry, dark plum, cola, cocoa, white pepper, smoked meats and toasty vanilla. This wine has a bright and clean entry with a lofty and weighted body and a bold masculine structure. Dark and ripe fruit flavors lead to a well balanced mid palate. The tannins are soft and wet yet lengthy enough to leave the palate craving more.
Syrah, Paul Hobbs “Kick Ranch” 2007
This syrah commands attention with a dense, black garnet hue accompanied by generous aromatics; blueberry, black currant, white pepper and savory notes of pancetta introduce a wine that is big-boned and bold, yet complex and nuanced. Unfolding in layers of blackberry, plum and dried herbs, the palate is still brooding but declares itself with authority, finishing long with firm tannins and notes of cedar and spice.
Zinfandel, Lamborn “Frosty” Howell Mountain 2008
The nose and palate are rewarded with rich layers of raspberry, black cherry and plum, all in perfect balance with subtle oak undertones and the lasting benefit of a long and spicy finish. The elegance and complexities of this vintage make it enjoyable with or without the compliment of food.
These wines are available at http://dc.destcellars.com
The final component to any perfect barbecue is a rock star barbecue sauce. I have included the recipe to one of my favorite low maintenance all purpose sauces.
- 1 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1 c. ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. molasses
- 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- Optional - ½ tsp. liquid smoke (Mesquite for Beef, Hickory for Pork)
Mix all ingredients well in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. To shorten mixing time, dissolve the brown sugar in the vinegar before adding to the bowl.
Simply Perfect Margarita:
- Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice (You will get about 1 oz. of juice per lime)
- Agave Syrup (The light kind, not the dark)
- Premium Plata (Silver) Tequila. I prefer Corzo but use your favorite brand. Try to avoid using Golden, Reposado or Añejo Tequilas.
- Sea Salt. I prefer Maldon Sea Salt for Margaritas. It has a lovely delicate flavor and the snowflake-like texture looks beautiful on the glass.
- Cocktail shaker
For Each Margarita
- 1 ½ oz. Tequila
- 1 oz. Lime Juice
- 1 Tbsp Agave Syrup (or more to taste, I like tart Margaritas)
On a small plate, lay out a layer of Maldon salt. In a low ball glass full of ice, combine the ingredients. Roll the contents into the cocktail shaker making sure to get the entire rim of the glass wet. Take your wet glass and place, rim down, into the salt and twist to coat. Roll the contents of the shaker back into the low ball glass and serve.
As ever, should you have any questions or would like to order any of the wines above, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.