Sticky, smoky and sweet baby back ribs are a summer staple and a classic partner for those game-day tailgate parties. Sure, most people think of grabbing a cold beer with barbecue, but I promise the right wine pairing can literally blow your mind. There are so many styles of BBQ, so for this post, I am focusing on the Kansas City style that boasts that thick jammy, sweet, smoky and spicy sauce. My go-to wine pairings are a fruit forward, spicy Zinfandel or a rich, smoky Syrah. The intense smokiness of ribs can be challenging to pair with wine, often overpowering the vino. Remember, the perfect pairing should complement one another and highlight the flavor profiles in both the food and wine. Since, we are talking about casual food here, I have chosen a few budget-friendly wines under $20 to pair with Kansas City BBQ Pork Ribs.
Why not add a little class to your next BBQ sandwich with a great glass of wine? If you think wine and bar food don’t belong together – think again! North Carolina vinegar-based BBQ requires a more subtle wine pairing than it’s Kansas City counterpart. One of my favorite, unconventional pairings with a pulled-pork sandwich piled high with cole slaw is an off-dry Riesling. Yes, you read that right! Think about it for a moment. What is one of the all-time favorite drinks in the south? Sweet tea. The off-dry Riesling acts as a slightly sweet balance to the vinegar and touch of spice in the BBQ. The piercing acidity in the Riesling mirrors the mouthwatering vinegar notes in the barbecue.
This pairing was discovered last summer when I was challenged by Doughties Barbecue to find the perfect pairing for a wine festival. This was hands-down the surprise hit of the day! People were coming back to me for more of this delicious pairing. Doughtie’s delivers to your door, so why not place an order of their delicious barbecue and grab a bottle of Riesling for a super easy meal. Check it for yourself and find out what all the fuss is about!
The unofficial start of summer is just days away. As you prepare to fire up the grill, slather on the sunscreen and celebrate with family and friends, don’t forget to stock up on some great vino for your long holiday weekend. Let’s also take a moment to pause and raise a glass to salute our fallen heroes and their families and give thanks for our freedom.
From California to Virginia, I have selected 10 all American wines under $30 that are perfect for the backyard or the beach!
Taste of the States
Gruet Extra Dry, New Mexico ($15) – This sparkler is perfect for entertaining. The Gruet family comes from Champagne, France and they are producing excellent sparkling wines using the traditional method. Sparkling wines boast vibrant acidity that is light and refreshing and a perfect pairing with many different cuisines. This wine reminds me of summer. Gorgeous notes of juicy peach and vibrant sweet lime juice remind me of a peach margarita with effervescence. Creamy and dry on the finish with a touch of honeysuckle sweetness. Keep in mind that brut is actually the driest form of sparkling not dry.
Pair with sushi, ceviche, fish tacos, grilled seafood, chicken & pork
Pairs with grilled seafood, grilled chicken, picnic fare & cheese plates
2013 Charles & Charles Rosé, Columbia Valley, Washington State ($12) – This dry fruity rosé from Washington State uses Rhone varietals (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache & Cinsault). Sweet summer raspberries, cherry, rosemary, hints of rose petals and a touch of spice are prominent on the nose. The palate is reminscint of strawberry shortcake – creamy & delicious! A Wine Spectator best value.
Pair with grilled salmon with cherry glaze, grilled shrimp, chicken, picnic fare & delicate cheeses like brie & feta
2012 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, California ($17) – Sauvignon Blancs remind of summertime. Notes of fresh cut grass and citrus remind me of the backyard barbecues of my childhood. This wine is part of the Caymus collection. Aromas of lemon curd, lime zest, fleshy grapefruit, pear and wet stone are dominant on the nose. A wine with vibrant acidity makes it a perfect food partner.
Pair with Chicago style hot dogs (with pickles & celery seed), hummus, shrimp cocktail, grilled seafood & goat cheese
Chatham Vineyards Church Creek “Steel” Chardonnay Eastern Shore, Virginia ($17) – Yes, you read this right, a Virginia Chardonnay! Chatham uses dijon clones in this lovely wine from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Delicate aromas of juicy pear, gala apple, lemon curd and melon lead to a dry crisp and refreshing finish on the palate. This wine drinks more like a Burgundy than an American Chardonnay.
Pair with grilled seafood, sushi, oysters and peel & eat shrimp.
Jefferson Viognier, Charlottesville, Virginia ($28) – It doesn’t get more American than wines that bear the Thomas Jefferson namesake. Jefferson painstakingly tried to make wine for more than 30 years and never produced a single bottle. Things have certainly changed over the past 200 years at his Charlottesville estate. Viognier is Virginia’s signature grape. Similar in body to a Chardonnay with a beautiful aromatic nose similar to a Riesling. This wine is a crowd pleaser. Notes of stone & tropical fruit are dominant on the nose with a hint of orange blossom. The palate boasts sweet pineapple, kiwi, ripe peach, lemon & lime with a hint of white pepper. The wine has a dry, creamy finish.
Pair with grilled swordfish or crab cakes with a pinepple salsa or try it with Thai food.
Eroica Riesling, Washington State ($20) – An amazing partnership between the king of German Riesling Dr. Loosen and a premiere Washington State producer Chateau Ste. Michelle have created an exquisite American Riesling. This off dry Riesling boasts aromas of mandarin orange, baked spiced apples and a hint of stone fruit that gives way to a palate with refreshing acidity. A touch of residual sugar makes this an excellent pairing with spicy foods. Love this with a Chesapeake Baja Burger!
Pairs with Thai food, sushi, an array of seafood & salads
Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir, Monterey, California ($20) – This 100% estate grown fruit is a tremendous value. Finding a good Pinot Noir for $20 or less is like finding a needle in a haystack. They are one of the most finicky grapes to grow, often called the heartbreak grape. Winemaker Dan Karslen spent most of his career working in Burgundy, France and has a certain finesse when it comes to crafting good quality Pinot. The Kali Hart is Talbott’s entry level Pinot and what a delight it is! On the nose you’ll discover cranberry, plum & raspberry with hint of baking spice and vanilla. Great value! If you want to splurge a little, pick up a bottle of the Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir ($40).
Pair with grilled chicken marinated in balsamic dressing or grilled salmon on a cedar plank
Writer’s Block Syrah, Lake County, California ($16) This California Syrah is more similar to the Rhone Valley style rather than Australian Shiraz. This wine has notes of dark berries, dusty violet, bacon, pepper with hints of mocha. This a nice value Syrah. Grab a bacon bleu cheeseburger and a glass of this and you will have a party on your palate!
Pair with ribs, burgers and steaks
Plungerhead Zinfandel, Lodi, California ($15) – A good value Old Vine Zinfandel. Layers of baked black and red fruit with vanilla, pepper, sweet spice and hazelnut are apparent on the nose. The palate of baked spiced fruit with dark chocolate does not disappoint. The winemaker uses a blend of American & French oak.