I’ve had a lot of different drinks with barbecue over the years: beer, water, lemonade, Cheerwine, Pepsi and yes, of course, ice tea, to name a few. But I’d never thought seriously about pairing wine and barbecue. Somehow it just didn’t seem right: humble barbecue and that snooty vino stuff. As far as I was concerned wine belonged with barbecue about as much as lobster belonged on a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. But a recent experience made me think again.
A wine distributor contacted me and offered to send me a couple bottles of Argentinian wine if I was willing to have some friends over to sample it alongside barbecue. (Generous offer, not-so-subtle attempt at free advertising, bribe? You decide). I was going to say no thanks but curiousity and the willingess to do anything for a free bottle of alcohol swayed me. Plus, it occurred to me that the people of Argentina are notorious meat eaters and undoubtedly pair wine with their carnivore diet all the time.
The wine I received was a 2008 bottle of Broquel Malbec from Trapiche, which is Argentina’s largest premium wine exporter. (See this link for some interesting background on Malbec.) Because Broquel Malbec has a rich, complex flavor Trapiche recommends pairing it with flavorful foods like “stew made of game, lamb, or wild boar.” Given the surprising lack of availability of wild boar at my local grocer (when is boar season ’round here anyway?), and my distaste for stew in 100 degree August weather, I figured barbecue would be a good substitute.
I invited some friends over for NC-style barbecue pork butt and Texas-style beef brisket. I told my friends not to bother to bring drinks, since wine was on the menu. My wine loving friends didn’t flinch but the alert barbecue lovers voiced some concern. Luckily, free booze and ‘cue is hard to resist.
The results were great. I can vouch that the complex fruit flavors of the Broquel Malbec paired well with the smoky, rich meaty flavors of the barbecue. Perhaps because the beef brisket had a stronger flavor, the wine worked particularly well with it. Still, even the relatively subtle flavors of the pork were not overwhelmed by the Broquel Malbec. Live, drink and learn. I’m not giving up ice tea as my preferred BBQ drink but I’ll catch myself next time my eyes roll at the mention of wine and barbecue!