Memorial Day weekend is a blur in our house, with the end of school and other various craziness, so it's not until the Fourth of July that I really feel like I can kick back and do some serious cooking in the backyard. As I've tried to master various recipes and cuts of meat—whether it's baby-back ribs, chicken or beef brisket—I've experimented with different wines to drink with these slow-cooked creations.
The flavors of barbecue are intense: smoky and zesty, spicy, greasy and sweet. You might think you need a powerful wine for its equal but that's not necessarily the case. Sure, most hearty reds will do fine with those big flavors, but if you're going to the trouble of slowly grilling or smoking something for hours, why drink just any wine? Here are some suggestions for distinctive and lively barbecue-friendly reds and whites.
America got the wrong idea about rosé wines back in the 1980s, with the rise of white Zinfandel. I’m not sure who’s more resistant to rosés: newly serious drinkers mistakenly trying to live down their “sweet” wine days or devoted collectors who believe pink wine is just too damn wimpy.
Rosés are not supposed to be pink soda pop: They should be dry and refreshing, with a hint of flowers in the aroma and fresh fruits like strawberry, watermelon or raspberry—something to enjoy on a warm summer day without overthinking it.
Traffic jams and tasty waves aren’t the only things Southern California has to offer. Northern California may be better represented on wine shelves around the country, but southern regions like Santa Barbara County, a diverse wine region for both red and white wines, have been on wine lovers’ radar for years.
Here are some of the top producers of Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to look for in Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara and more.
Shekels, moolah, simoleons, greenbacks, deniro—no matter what language or lingo you use, money is something you’ll need by the basketful to tour the wine regions of the world. Even if you skip the scenery and airfare and merely sample the world from the local wine shelves, it can be overwhelming and expensive in its own right.
Maybe that’s why I think Jayson Woodbridge has the right idea with his Layer Cake label: five different varietal wines from key regions around the globe, all priced around $15. There’s a Malbec from Argentina, Italian Primitivo, Australian Shiraz and a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
History has always fascinated me. I got it from my dad, who like so many kids growing up during World War II saw it as a sort of a heroic grand adventure, and it made him forever curious about the past. Perhaps that’s why I like wineries with a good back-story. Discovering new wineries and the latest thing in wine are great fun, but I can’t resist dusty old tales about immigrants at the turn of the last century, the bare-knuckle days of Prohibition and bootleggers, family conflicts and personal feuds, decline and rebirth.
All of that came to mind the other day after I opened a bottle of Foppiano Petite Sirah Russian River Valley 2008 ($20). Now here’s a family winery with a long history, some good old stories and is in the process of reinventing itself.