As many of you already know, I am soon to be a legal resident of the great state of Texas (I am pretty sure we will get in before the proposed wall goes up). As a resident of the state, one apparently needs to be well-versed when it comes to the staple of the Texas diet:
To be honest, I am not all that sure that I know what Texas barbecue is. It is a big state and Wikipedia claims that there are four distinct styles of BBQ within the state.
Thus, this is going to take a bit of research.
The two most prevalent styles, according to a couple of sites, are the Central Texas and Eastern Texas styles. You can’t get much further East in Texas than Houston, so I assume that is the style where I need to start–where the meat (mostly beef), after marinating in a sweet, tomato-based sauce, is slow cooked to the point of the meat falling off the bone.
I think I can live with that.
I have been told (on a couple of occasions) that true Texas barbecue can only be had while inside the borders of the Lone Star State. Thus, according to those “experts” I have had Texas barbecue exactly once, and the restaurant was in a rather nondescript strip mall in Houston, not far from what will soon be my “home” Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
I was quickly chastised by a few Houstonians that what I ate was the McDonald’s equivalent of “real” Texas BBQ. Thus, I am far from an expert, but I do know that I will be eschewing beer as I travel down this path, opting, of course, for fermented grape juice as my BBQ beverage. With that in mind, here are my takes on potentially great pairings for the genre:
2011 Cepa 21 Ribera del Duero: Retail $25. 100% Tempranillo. I popped this on a nondescript Friday night with rain driving hard outside. I did not prepare barbecue. In fact, I did not prepare much of anything at all. I had a big lunch earlier in the day, and I was content to drink a bit of wine and call it a meal. Dark and ominous, much like the Philly skyline, but with a bit of darker berry fruit punching through. On the palate? At this moment, I only wish I were in Texas, tearing into some ribs or brisket (forgive me if that is off, I have yet to learn the terminology). Rich, without being opulent, this wine clings to the mouth much as that BBQ will cling to your ribs. I might have found a little secret here, one that I will not keep to myself. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2013 Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley Family Estate Series: Retail $30. Fruity. Vanilla. A hint of oak. On the palate there is plenty of fruit here which will help combat all of that smoke that comes with Texas BBQ. Rich. Really rich. This is not my wheelhouse but I am going to have to redefine what that means when it comes to all the rich flavors associated with this new (to me) style of barbecue. And all the fruit here would pair well with the richness that is Texas BBQ. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2013 Kunde Zinfandel Sonoma Valley Family Estate Series: Retail $22. You know? This is a solid effort at a friendly price point. This is a clear step up from most of the Zins that come in around $15-20 and offer little more than a ton of fruit. Sure, there is plenty of fruit here, but it is paired with mocha and a bit of spice. The palate is solid as well with that luscious fruit upfront, but some texture right behind. I am thinking that this might be the first bottle I reach for when I attempt my first Texas BBQ—even if the food is a failure, the wine will delight. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 Bodega Septima Malbec Mendoza: Retail $14. 100% Malbec. Really dark in color and dark fruit on the nose, this is an ink well wine. Round and viscous with plenty of fruit, this would hold up very well to the biggest barbecue flavors that Texas can through at it. Not only that, but this is no doubt a crowd pleaser even without a ton of beef on the smoker (see that? I am even beginning to sound like a BBQ guy!). Add in the cost? This is a no-brainer. I would plan to always have a couple of bottles around no matter where I live. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2015 Left Coast Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir: Retail $22. OK. This is a saignée. I have written many times how I am not a huge fan of this type of rosé (you can read why HERE). There is a rather general exception to that rule, however, and that would be saignées of Pinot Noir. Why? Well, for the most part, Pinots are really high in acid (and relatively low in tannin), so even if the grapes were grown to make a red wine, the bled off juice will still likely have enough acidity to make a respectable rosé.
Well, this rosé goes beyond “respectable.”
By a long shot.
There is also the issue of drinking rosé (which some see as less than “manly”) with perhaps the “manliest” of cuisines (Texas barbecue). Well, to all you guys out there, I can assure you that there are plenty of “real men” who drink rosé. And, as an added bonus, that person whose attention you are trying to attract will see your glass and know that you can throw caution to the wind and express your more sensitive side.
Or something like that.
As for the wine?
Really pale salmon color, tart strawberry rhubarb, green apple. On the palate? This is one of the better Pinot Noir rosés that I have tried, it really stands on end with its fruit, acidity, and verve. Nice fruit, balance, and expression. I had my doubts going in, but this really delivered. And maybe then some. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.