06/21/11 – throwing some reds on the barbie

By Jesse on June 18, 2011

Having been involved in the drinking and discussion (and more drinking, and louder discussion) of wine for several years now, I’m always surprised when I come across a bit of eye-opening wine insight I’ve never seen before — even if it’s only an acronym.  Such was the case today, when I discovered this ancient website about which wines to bring to a barbecue.  The unnamed author makes the clever and accurate observation that BBQ wines should always be B.B.Q.: big, bold, and quaffable.  I couldn’t agree more.

This week, we’re tasting red barbecue-friendly wines, and I’d say that the “B.B.Q.” descriptor is a good one to keep in mind when selecting a wine to bring.  The go-to “big reds” would probably be good bets (i.e. Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, Petite Sirah, etc.), but here are a few other suggestions:

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo — grown in the rugged hills of Italy’s east coast, this is a flavorful, rustic red made from the Montepulciano grape (not to be confused with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, made from Sangiovese in Tuscany). Here’s a recommended bottle from Wine Spectator for under $15, and here’s a description of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo written by a lawyer from Ohio.
Nero d’Avola — Sicily’s top wine keeps getting better in terms of quality. Expect a big round body, some nice plum, some nice spice, and some good tannins. Click here to watch Gary Vaynerchuk taste a few bottles after spending about five minutes talking about the Giants.

Rhône Reds, from Rhône and elsewhere — this category encompasses the true Rhône wines, produced in the Rhône Valley of south-eastern France (such regions as Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas, Côtes-du-Lúberon, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, all located in the Southern Rhône, and Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, and Côte-Rôtie in the North), as well as Rhône-style wines made elsewhere in the world using traditional red Rhône varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, and Carignan.  These wines take the great qualities of the Rhône wines, such as their dense smokiness and their meaty-yet-fruity flavors, and project them onto the characteristics of the local terroir… often to delicious effect.

Finally, there’s always Zinfandel — the pure expression of California’s signature grape. They come from all over the state, but we’ve tasted many of our favorite examples on our trips to Paso Robles and Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. They run the gamut from jammy and plump to spicy and sinister.  (For a continental twist, bring a Primitivo, Zinfandel’s DNA equivalent grown in Italy.)

We’ll be meeting at Zack’s bungalow in Hollywood.  The RSVP system works like this: if you want in, simply select “will attend” on the right side of this page.  On Tuesday, I’ll send you an e-mail with the address and additional info.