Barbecue Power Ranking
The word barbecue comes from barbacoa, a word that in the language of the Caribbean Taino Indians indicates a kind of grill on which they were used to place all the hunted animals of the day, covered with leaves, to be cooked and smoked, before being consumed. Or at least this is how the word sounded to the Spaniard missionaries and explorers, the first to take note of the word. Some legends—in vogue especially in the privateer literature—say that barbecue comes from the French da la barbe à le queue—from the beard to the tail—referring to goat skewered on a spit roasting on the ember, and it sounds very convincing if you try to spell it.
But, no matter how seductive is the etymology research of the word barbecue, because today we want to find out which wines are the most barbecue friendly and considering the endless amount of meat cuts, sauces and methods, we are not going to focus on a overall classification, but rather on some tips for every bracket, starting from the legendary ribs glazed with BBQ sauce.
Kansas City BBQ Ribs and Lagrein Gran Lareyn 2012, Loacker
Often is taken in consideration only the power of wine, so the choice falls on the usual Cabernet Sauvignon: both the tannins and the structure are mouth watering, the spicy and smoky undertone of pepper is clicking with the strong, caramelized, sweet and salty flavor of these amazing ribs: a classic combination, but a bit hackneyed. For the sauce mix together fresh tomato juice, peppers, onions, vinegar, a pinch of chili powder, brown sugar, Worcester sauce and honey to make it thick, so it can create a crunchy crust all around the chunk of meat, which should cook gently in a smoker or a covered grill to enhance the meat with all the delicious aromas of the smoke. We should find an intense wine, but do not overdo with tannins and alcohol otherwise the pairing can blow up, and finding a connection with Worcester sauce doesn’t hurt too. In this case the 2011 Lagrein from Loacker, powered by a flush of baked cherries and smooth tannins, is able, due to a slashing floral acidity, to cool the fire of the ribs and add a touch of sweet spices and rhubarb to make the combination unique.
Porceddu from Sardinia and Cannonau Mamuthone 2012, Giuseppe Sedilesu
Barbecue is a cult in Sardinia: we can find suckling pigs, lambs, wild boars, and the tradition of the old shepherds want them to be cooked in pits dug on the ground, in which you put coals and leaves of myrtle to add a special flavor. Porceddu (roasted suckling pig) is definitely the most impressive recipe: we’re talking about a tender pig with no more than 45 days, between 10 and 18 pounds; the meat, after a full day of roasting, is crispy outside and stunningly juicy inside. The recommended wine for Porceddu is one of the historical Cannonau of Sardinia, from 50 years old vines: Mamuthone 2010, from Giuseppe Sedilesu winery. This wine is the paradigm of this terroir, it sums it up all the warm flavors you can find on this island: is proudly overwhelming, warm, elegant, outrageously balsamic, with hints of menthols, eucalyptus, bergamot, thyme and rosemary clinging to a bright, supple tannin. That salty feeling of Mediterranean scrubland that remains on the tongue, was born to fest with tasty dishes like Porceddu: tasting on the palate the sweetness of the meat fading into the cherries’ one will make you love this land.
Bulgogi and Marzemino Poiema 2012, Eugenio Rosi
Koreans are the masters of barbecue. The secret is the marinade, the addicting harmony that they menage to create between sweet and salty flavors, mixing soy sauce, sugar, seeds and sesame oil, garlic, onions and nashi pear or prune juice. Bulgogi is made with the best beef cuts, while for Galbi they mean ribs. The chosen wine must have an equally fleshy and dreamy fruit component—you have to bite it—and a bit of jam suggestions too, to shoulder the juice of the meat that get caramelized through the grilling process, without falling into Parkerism (jam wine monotheism) though, but above all our beloved wine must have tight-knit and burnished tannins to accompany all these nuances without being too bold. After several experiments, we elected the Rosi’s 2009 Marzemino Poiema ideal companion for any Korean barbecue, thanks to a carousel of heady scents that manage to remain balanced, credible, never too oaked and with an acidity that keeps the wine elegant .
Asado and Camalaione 2011, Le Cinciole
Another spectacular example of how barbecue was born from the need to improvise outdoor cooking. The Gauchos from Argentina studied this simple, yet ingenious method to roast all kinds of meat. Traditionally the animal is cut into pieces and then impaled on skewers, planted vertically into the ground, to drain away the fat. The cooking is extremely slow, a mixture of charcoal, flames and smoke, and the result is worth a trip to the Pampas, as Camalaione—70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 15% Merlot—is worth a visit to Le Cinciole, the beautiful cellar of Valeria Viganò and Luca Orsini, in the heart of Chianti, Panzano. The wine has a fiery spirit that immediately takes posses of your nose, is a frenetic whirlwind that leaves no way. It has the the overwhelming impact of a Pollock’s painting: at first one is stunned by this fireball of emotions that can not be singularly untangled, but it’s enough to take a step back and sniff again with calm and everything is illuminated. The fruit is shockingly exuberant and occurs with waves of blueberries immersed in a fresh rose jelly, featuring tamarind mousse, violets under alcohol, black pepper, peony, tobacco, cola and espresso to close the symphony. The tannins are vigorous, anyway polished by 18 month of barrel aging, the balance is inviting and the overall freshness is still lively in this great wine, which would be reductive to chose only for meat and barbecue: this intriguing complexity can help you to meditate and live better.