Food & Wine: BBQ and Wine Pairings

Low and slow with wine.

Summertime is synonymous with BBQ, but do you always have to have it with beer? No, I say! There is plenty of room on the table for a great glass of vino to go with everything from brisket to ribs. Here is a quick guide to some BBQ terms, foods, and the wines to go with them!

First a few definitions that should help guide you through any BBQ recipe:

  • Barbecuing is a low heat, slow, indirect cooking method that uses wood and/or charcoal embers to both cook and smoke meat.
  • Grilling is a high heat cooking method where food is cooked directly over open flame.
  • American pit BBQ traditionally has the heat source or “fire box” attached to the cooking chamber.
  • Dry rub or spice rub is a mixture used to flavor and/or marinate the meat, which has salt and sugar as its base.
  • Marinade is an acidic based sauced that is used to flavor and tenderize the food.
  • Brining is a process of marinating meat in a salt-water solution that may be flavored with herbs and spices in order to flavor, tenderize, and preserve the meat.
  • Bark is the dark crust that forms on BBQ’d meat. It is highly prized by BBQ aficionados.
  • Boston butt or pork butt is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone.
  • Spare ribs are the long cut from the lower portion of the pig orcattle, specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones.
  • Baby back ribs are taken from the top ofthe rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. They are more lean and tender than spare ribs.
  • St Louis cut ribs is a rectangular cut of the ribs, which contains the spare ribs and part of the baby back rib area. To many people, this is the best of all rib worlds.
  • Burnt edges or ends are cubed bits of meat from the point end of the brisket served with sauce on top or on the sides. They are a Kansas City specialty that is either served alone or in a sandwich.

Here is a break down of the 4 basic styles of American BBQ:

BBQMeat of Choice: Pork
Wood of Choice: Hickory (Oak, Pecan, Apple, Cherry also used)
Famous Dish: Pork spare or baby back ribs “Wet” (slathered with sauce after smoking) or “Dry” (no sauce, just dry rubbed with seasonings and smoked) and pork shoulder.
Sauce Style: Tomato & Vinegar Base
Wines to go with: Spanish Grenache, Dry Creek Zinfandel, or Nero d’Avola

image4Meat of Choice: Beef
Wood of Choice: Oak or mesquite
Famous Dish: Sliced Beef Brisket served with thick cut white bread, Link Sausage
Sauce Style: Tomato Based Sauce with Some Sweetness and Chili powder
Wines to go with: Malbec, Australian Cabernet, Washington Syrah

Kansas City
image3Meat of Choice: Beef and pork
Wood of Choice: Mix
Famous Dish: BBQ Chicken, Ribs (St Louis cut), and burnt edges or ends
Sauce Style: Sweet Tomato Based Sauce with Molasses
Wines to go with: Lodi or Paso Robles Zinfandel, Cotes du Rhone, Spanish Monastrell

image2Meat of Choice: Pork
Wood of Choice: Hickory or Oak
Famous Dish: Pulled Pork or whole hog for “pig picking”
Sauce Style: Vinegar Based in East; Tomato Based in West; Mustard Based sweetened with sugar, molasses or honey also Served in Georgia & South Carolina
Wines to go with: Australian Shiraz, California red blends, Languedoc reds

Here are some current release wines that I love with BBQ: