With the Music City BBQ Festival* about to descend this weekend upon the riverfront of our fair city, a young man's fancy turns to pork. And this young man's fancy particularly turns to what wine to match with BBQ.
Conventional wisdom says to pair spicy red Zinfandels or sweeter whites like Gewurztraminers or Rieslings with tomato-based bbq sauces. Personally, I find the high (15+%) alcohol content of Zins to be great for taking the edge off of a crappy day at work, but not always the best for complementing the peppery heat of my favorite sopping sauces. And while the Germans may know sausage and schnitzel, the Bavarian climate doesn't lend itself to spending hours outside in the snow adding smoke to pig, so I'll save those sweet German wines for something they know more about. Like Pad Thai.
The Spaniards, however have a great tradition of grilling and wine making. Watching a recent rerun of the Gwenyth Paltrow/Mario Batali love letter to Spain got me to thinking about matching Tempranillos and Grenaches with our version of Barbacoa.
Luckily I had good examples of both sitting around the house waiting for a tasting. The Q was straight from Dreamland in Alabama, burnt ends and all. The Tempranillo was a bottle of Campos Reales from La Mancha and the Grenache was a 2007 Tapeña Garnacha. Both should be readily available in most good Nashville wine shoppes for about $10 a bottle.
The Campos Tempranillo offered the jammy berry flavors of a big red zinfandels without the pepper or heat that often overpowers red sauces. I was reminded of Zola's Deb Paquette and her wonderfully fatty pulled pork with mole on a sweet potato biscuit topped with her peach preserves. But a lot cheaper. (Don't skip Deb's version, though.) Save a half glass to pair with some good dark chocolate for dessert.
The Tapeña Garnacha is a little more peppery than the Tempranillo, but if you like sweeter thick bbq sauces, think Sweet Baby Ray's, the cherry undertones would be a very nice match. Dreamland bbq is more about smoky and crunchy pork than slathered sauce, so I personally preferred the Campos with my ribs and pulled pork combo. But there's always tomorrow. I'm thinking tenderloin in a crockpot with some Beer Man Sauce. Come on over and bring your own stemware!
*For more info about the Music City BBQ Festival, including the schedule of events and musical entertainment (Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough on Saturday night!) point your curly tail here.