Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I'm really excited to be part of Wine Blogging Wednesday. I need to give credit where it's due: to Lenn Thompson of Lenn Devours for creating WBW, and to @Sonadora of the Wanna Wino Wine Blog for posting this one so I could weasel my way into participating.
This month's theme is "I Have Zinned"...the title is apropos, as Widespread Panic's "Me and the Devil Blues" pulses through my headphones (hopefully rocking me out of a serious funk of writer's block). And while drinking Zinfandel may not result in an audience with Ol' Scratch, it is kind of the "bad boy" of red wines: powerful, spicy, alcoholic, and all-American...a perfect compliment to folksy rock n' roll. But something is missing-
Bluesy Jams + Jammy Booze + BBQ Ribs with a Zinfandel Glaze- okay, now we've got something worth writing about.
Since my Bentley's in the shop and both my yachts are costing me an arm-and-a-leg in dry-dock, I opted for a Zin with a price point of $10.99. Plus, I wanted to give something a try from the Sierra Foothills AVA, so this Cartlidge & Browne 2006 Amador County Zinfandel fit the bill. I've had a lot of great Zin in the $20-30 range, so it's nice when I find a gem in the $10-12 "broke wino" range (yes, it's true...the Bentley/yacht talk was a farce).
No earth-shaking find here, but not bad. On the nose, I got berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries. Also, some violets, spice, and pepper. Nothing interesting; it was a pretty typical, rather subtle Zinfandel nose. In the mouth, I got some decent fruit, average acidity, and some smooth tannins. It was pretty easy drinking and not incredibly structured, with a rather short finish. In the end, I found it to be a servicable Zin. Not terrible, not great- really what I would expect for the price point. If you're knocking back a bottle on a Tuesday night, you could do a lot worse, and you certainly wouldn't feel like your $11 bucks went to waste. However, for $3-5 bucks more, I think you get a lot more value out of a Ravenswood Sonoma County Zin or a Cline Ancient Vines Zin (both which can be found anywhere). Depends on your "Bentley" situation, I suppose. Also, always keep in mind that these are my taste buds talking, not yours.
Suffice it to say, I'm a sucker for good BBQ. If my [ample] belly could talk, it would say "gimme some BBQ, sucka!" Yes, my belly would talk in a Mr. T voice. "T" and I especially like good BBQ with Zinfandel; the big berry fruit works great with a sweet sauce and the smoky flavor, and the acidity and tannin help balance the richness of pork ribs, which are high in tasty fats. However, unable to decide on pork ribs or beef ribs, I went for both. I used the "Lone Star Steak Rub" from Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible: Sauces, Rubs and Marinades. I kept the rub as-is for the beef ribs, and then added a cup of light brown sugar for the pork. I cooked them over indirect heat on my Weber kettle with some hickory smoke for 3 hours at 275 degrees. This produced ribs with tender meat, but just a little pull off the bone, which I like. Before I served, I got another hot fire going, then basted the ribs several times with a Zinfandel-BBQ glaze, which turned out great:
Zinfandel BBQ Glaze
1 Cup Red Zinfandel
1 Cup Apple Juice
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup Soy Sauce
2/3 Cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Deli Mustard
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon of the Rub used on the ribs
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Add all contents to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half
Oh, and the other thing on the plate is Sweet Potato Hashbrowns...in theory, a good idea, but they just didn't pan out the way I had hoped. Let me get back to the lab on that one.
The wine was not bad. The ribs were pretty solid (not tooting my horn here; just that good ribs are a hell of a lot easier to make than good wine). Together, I actually had wished the Zin hadn't been so easy-drinking. I wanted more fruit to stand up to the spicy rub on the ribs (and I usually NEVER want a fruit bomb with food). Also, there wasn't quite enough acid in the wine to balance the nourishing fats. Lastly, the alcohol (at 15%+) was just a little too hot for the pepper in the rub; it really amplified the "heat" factor...not that I mind, but it took away from the smoky goodness. In the end, I'll say this: make the ribs (comment below with any questions); they were solid. The wine didn't work great with them, but give them a try together- what I taste is not necessarily gonna be what you taste. And listen to some blues when you're making BBQ. It just works. Most importantly, though, eat the food and drink the wine with people who you love. If no one's available, maybe you can have a conversation with your belly.
Until then, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!