Question: What kind of wine should I bring to a BBQ?
July has come to Door County, Wisconsin and the grills are out! Paul Santoriello, Winemaker and Production Director at Door Peninsula Winery, and Door County Chefs ‘Ask a Chef‘ contributor, has some fantastic advice on finding the perfect wine for your next backyard BBQ:
After suffering through what feels like the worst winter in 30 years, Wisconsinites are anxious to get back outside – and that means lighting the grill. Whether they burn charcoal or gas, people here have a longstanding love affair with outdoor cooking. Though brats and burgers remain the go-to grill meats, many backyard chefs are upping the ante with steaks, ribs, chops and fish. Here are a few tips for making the most of those pairings.
Pairing food and wine is really simple and about personal taste, but there are a few helpful practices to make your meal better, says Paul Santoriello, head winemaker at Door Peninsula Winery.
“Lighter meats (like chicken and fish) tend to call for white and lighter red wines, while traditional red wines are a natural pairing for red meats and smoke flavors off the grill.”
There are some barbecue-specific rules of thumb, however. For instance, with spicier barbecue entrees, Santoriello suggests going with a wine that has residual sweetness or a ‘soft’ wine blend. “Sweeter wines can accent the smokiness of barbecued meat, and simultaneously tame the spiciness of rubs and sauces,” he says. “Blended fruit/grape wines at Door Peninsula Winery are a particularly good fit. For a local angle, try a wine made with Wisconsin-grown cherries, cranberries or apples.”
Many sauces or foods off the grill become concentrated when cooking, and can become salty. Lightly sweet wines help correct this imbalance. Fruit wines can also enhance the flavors in sauces like a mango glaze, mustard marinades or sweet barbecue. As a rule of thumb, the sauce dictates the appropriate wine pairing. “We find cranberry based wines really work fantastic with barbecue sauces, and cherry based wines can work great with pork ribs or brats.”
“For a more intense flavor, try an oak aged fruit wine like Peninsula Red, or the newly released 40th Anniversary ‘dry’, barrel-aged Cherry or Apple wines,” says Santoriello.
These wines provide the perfect balance for grilled sausages, smoked brisket, or other meats with that lingering grilled flavor, “Oaked goes with smoked.”
Some styles of barbecue focus on the flavors of the meat alone – like Texas brisket, which has such a pronounced smoky flavor that does not require a sauce. According to Santoriello, smoked meats can easily overpower a wine. He suggests pairing them with the equally pronounced flavors of oak-aged wines. “These are traditional grape wines, with sturdy tannin structure and rich, complex flavors like black-current, bay leaf or perhaps smokiness from the oak barrel aging.” The smoky flavor that comes from grilling or charring meat contrasts nicely with oak-aged wines by softening the spicy oak flavors and enhancing the fruit flavors in the wine.
The other unspoken component to wine-and-food pairing is the usefulness of acidity. Wine is used in cooking, and lends a hand in marinades, “as the acid component” or offering a bright note to finish each bite of food.
Door Peninsula Winery in Carlesville is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
EVENTS: Make a point to visit on July 26, 2014 during Carlsville Day and catch the 10am Parade, Music by Glashamr from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., a Charity Grape Stomp at 1 p.m., and Food, Shipwrecked Beer, Door County Distillery Spirits & of course WINE! All Day enjoy Free Winery Tours, Slip and Slide Bowling, Bounce House, Find the Flag – Win a Prize! And experience a special dinner: Death By Wine, a Murder Mystery Dinner at Door Peninsula Winery: 6:00pm Cocktails, 7:00pm Dinner. Purchase online or call for tickets: 800.551.5049.