Best Summer Barbecue Wine Pairings

–submitted by Mike Wilson

Aug 28 17 Wine7

The Madison Rotary Wine Fellowship met at Wilson’s for a Barbecue/Grilling tasting on August 28. We initially were to try some wines that are said to go well with these particular barbecue types.

We started with tasting wines that went with Fish, Vegetables and Mushrooms, and tried an Australian Drover’s Hut Dugan Chardonnay, a New Zealand Nautilus 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2012 Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose (we tried this at the Steve’s tasting with Guigal representative from Chicago last year).  The Chardonnay was the preferred wine by most of the group – I am not sure of the current availability as this, like most of the wines, came from my collection.

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We next considered Grilled Chicken where the important consideration is whether you are having white or dark meat;  Chardonnay is good for white meat while America’s Zinfandel is appropriate for dark meat, and we tried a  2014 Paso Robles Ridge version.

With Beef and Burgers the important consideration is whether the meat or the toppings/sauce is the dominant feature of the burger or steak. If meat is the important feature then a Cabernet Sauvignon is great.  If there is a spicy additive in the topping (i.e. Blue cheese or Onions or the sauce you add) then a Cab/Syrah would work.  We tried a 2008 Cask Cabernet Sauvignon (a special purchase years ago as this Rutherford wine is very special with a little Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot Blended). This tasted like the 94 points from WS the wine is rated at. We also tried a Cabernet/Syrah blend from Tobin James (Patty and I are members of this largest wine club in the world). The cask 2008 was the pick of the bunch and I still have two bottles left.

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(Photo 1: Mike & Mandy McKay; Photo 2: Leslie & Peter Overton; Photo 3: Sandy & Dana Corbett)

Now the tasting changes as Mike and Patty Wilson had decided in the last few days to add actual BBQ’s to the wine tastings.  This came as when I discussed the tasting with Mike McKay at Rotary last week when he raised the possibility of someone grilling steak and having cubes to taste.  Patty and I talked about this, and went out and brought back BBQ’s from two local restaurants with their different sauces to see what could be done.  As the tasting details had already been sent out, we decided to cover the cost of this as a late addition to the tasting as we wanted to give a number of good wines from our cellar for the tasting.  Indeed the only wine we bought was the 2016 NZ Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc.

We also arranged for three different sauces with the BBQ’s: at one of the restaurants we liked their South Carolina Mustard sauce, and at the other we liked their Sweet and Spicy sauces.  Each of these sauces has different wine requirements, complicating the tasting.

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(Photo 1: Roth & Lynne Judd; Photo 2: Jennifer & Bob Winding)

At this time there was a little confusion in the tasting and those present were able to modify the sequencing without undue stress.  So we had a sequence of BBQ’s and sauces to go with wines that Mike Wilson had decided on.

We started with a Polish Kielbasa and participants could add up to three sauces and I preferred the Mustard and Spicy sauces, and blended together it was GREAT.  The three wines samples were a 2012 Guigal Cotes du Rhone, a Three vineyards 2011 Petite Sirah, and a Australian 2008 Stanley Lambert Zinfandel. The latter two wines were old friends of Patty and I.  The consensus rating was that the Guigal Cote du Rhone was preferred – much cheaper than the other wines.  If you slathered the sausage in hot sauce then the petite Sirah would have been great given the spiciness of the sausage.

Next we tried the Brisket.  This cut of beef is the Pectoralis Major and Minor, which supports 60% of the weight of the cow when standing. Note the cow does not have a clavicle so these muscles are more important in the cows mobility.  The typical sauce in Texas is mustard based and this cut of beef is the basis of BBQ brisket. Brisket is used in Ireland’s Corned beef and cabbage, the meat of New England’s Pot Roast, Boiled on Jewish Holidays, and the basis of Pastrami.  What a wonderful cut, one of the nine primal beef cuts. We tried a 2012 Calcareous Syrah, a 2002 Seghesio Aglianico, and a Haven’s 2001 Bourriquot Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend.  The latter was the most preferred wine.

Last we tried the Pulled Pork. Here we had two Peterson wines and an Aussie Shiraz (not Syrah although it is the same grape). The Peterson Winery is from the Dry Creek region of California. This is a winemaker whose name comes up repeatedly when talking about old Zinfandel vines, and is a sleeper in Zinfandel production.  His wines are especially spicy and nice. One wine was Zero manipulation, a 2012 Carignan/Shiraz/Grenache blend where the winemaker plays little with the grapes and the other was a 2012 Zinfandel.  The Australian wine was a 2003 Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shiraz and I prepared that it might be too old with a replacement ready, but the wine was great and had a WS rating of 93 – and it tasted like that too.  This was the consensus wine.

Aug 28 17 Wine15

(From left: Patty Wilson, Steve Mixtacki, Meryl Mixtacki & Mike Wilson)

All in all, the wines were fantastic and there were comments that this looked like one of the best tastings we had ever had even with 15 different wines reviewed.  The barbecues were also terrific also. Virtually no-one had a chocolate coated strawberry, as prepared by Patty, and unfortunately the Hosts did not ask everyone to take some of the BBQ’s or strawberries home.  Virtually all the wines seemed to have been drunk.

2 responses to “Best Summer Barbecue Wine Pairings

  1. I always find the wine fellowship posts enlightening and hunger inducing!

  2. Great read and drool inducing menu

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