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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...

BBQ Wines?!?

BBQ season is upon us. Now, to many Midwesterners, including myself, traditionally this meant one of a few types of cuisine: Either the Sausage subset (a gourmet approach would be to marinade in beer for several hours beforehand), or the burger subset. Deviation of either of these two disciplines usually resulted in charred, relatively expensive cuts of meat that I felt best served in a restaurant on someone else’s tab. And next to the grill would be copious amounts of beer, preferably canned, perhaps eventually instrumental in the demise of aforementioned expensive cuts of meat. This scenario really refers to my college years and early 20’s. Since I have been involved in the Wine & Food industry, I have found the necessity to feign some level of sophistication, along the way, I discovered that a good bottle, or more, of the right wine, can elevate the event of grilling to levels never seen during the reign of the mind numbing, canned Old Milwaukee’s Best Ice Light.
Last week I was visiting with Jim Heltebrake of Anderson’s on Talmadge. He asked about what my next article topic would be, and I told him that I was working on an article about wine and grilling. His eyes lit up, and he spoke in an inspired tone about how grilling and wine can be ritualistic, and how opening a bottle when you first light the grill can, and should be a symbiotic experience. As you pour your first glass, the wine helps to get your juices flowing, both creatively, and digestively. So, with source of inspiration in hand, how do you select the perfect grilling wine?
Anyone that knows me will roll their eyes when they read this next line: Dry Rosés are summertime in a glass! I beat this drum incessantly, and every time the weather warms up, I tell myself that this will be the summer that America finally gets it! Dry Rosés are perfect for a warm summer day, lighting the grill, and noshing on any number of classic BBQ (The noun, not the verb) starters. Rosés are, essentially red wines, with less concentration (yes, they are pink, but that doesn’t make them any less manly). They generally have less structure and extraction than their red brethren, but are made from red grapes such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Franc or a host of other red varietals. They are best served with a slight chill, and they are never, ever sweet unlike White Zinfandel.
Speaking of Zinfandel, the red version, or as most people like to call it, just Zinfandel, is perfect for many types of grilling as well. For under $20, you can usually score with a Spicy, ripe, juicy Zin from Sonoma. I have been fortunate enough to sample Wine & Cuisine from some of the best chefs and winemakers in the world, but the single greatest wine and food pairing moment for me came unexpectedly last year. My Chef Friend Chris, made his signature Chipotle Ribs for an event, and I non-chalantly paired it with a $13 bottle of Zinfandel. It was the most perfect pairing I have ever seen, and it was so, American.
As I began experimenting with the grill, and bringing in new proteins, and sauces, I found that if it’s grilled, it’s easy to match wine with. I always recommend a Spanish Grenache, a Cru Beaujolais, or the right Aussie Shiraz with the grill. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself, and send me your results. And as always, shop for wine only in an establishment where the staff is based in the wine department, and are knowledgeable, otherwise you are just giving your money to people in a marketing department somewhere.
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