Growing up in the South, I am no stranger to barbecue. At every family reunion, summer shindig and pool party, some type of barbecue was on the table. Even the rehearsal dinner for my wedding involved a smoked pig, and that dinner served to join a Tennessee and a Kentucky family together for better or for worse. Believe me, after watching some games together, that dinner is still much appreciated!
Even the rehearsal dinner for my wedding involved a smoked pig…
My family is definitely not the only Southern kinfolk to enjoy each other’s company while eating some barbecue. In colonial times, pigs were a low-maintenance, low-cost way to feed a family. Much more pork was consumed than beef, and every piece of the pig was used for food in some way. Southerners had created a self-sufficient food supply, which became a source of pride for many. They rarely exported their product north, wanting to keep this Southern tradition to themselves. Soon, pig slaughtering became a time of celebration, with the family doing the butchering inviting their neighbors over to have a little fun and a lot of barbecue. However, the only thing missing was the Vino.
As barbecue restaurants continue to move from the picnic table to a more upscale venue, a pairing in addition to the traditional beer is needed. According to The Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ restaurant in Napa, California, “Pigs with Pinot” is the first rule of thumb. Pinot Noir can be an excellent pairing choice, especially since Pinots tend come in many different styles. Originating in Burgundy, France, but grown in regions all around the world, Pinots are most usually light to medium bodied, with light flavors of cherry, raspberry and mocha.
California Pinots from Sonoma, Los Carneros and Napa are a few of my favorites. If you like Sonoma wines, try the 2012 Don & Sons 100% Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. It exhibits an inky ruby color and has aromas of wild strawberry, with a hint of vanilla. Its silky texture and lively tart raspberry flavors pair perfectly with smoked pork. Add a raspberry, chipotle bbq sauce and it’s even better. The 2013 Black Stallion Pinot Noir from Los Carneros is 97% Pinot with a little Syrah and Zinfandel added. In contrast to the subtlety of the Don & Sons, Black Stallion is voluptuous and full of rich flavors and soft tannins. Due to its pronounced acidity and subtle minerality, this wine goes well with the heavier and fattier part of the smoked pig.
For something in the middle of Don & Sons and the Black Stallion, try the 2012 Aquinas Pinot Noir from Napa Valley. This wine has 90% Pinot Noir with a little Petite Sirah and Grenache added. With a lively acidity, this wine pairs well with just about any part of the pig. Aquinas is full of cranberry and raspberry tart flavors which is balanced with subtle clove and toasted marshmallow flavors. The tannins of this wine are perfect with Dead End’s smoked bologna or burnt ends.
If you are looking for a perfect everyday Pinot pairing, try the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. With a little more sweetness than the other three suggestions, this one is perfect with a Dead End appetizer, barbecued entree or for simply sipping with a group of friends on the patio. Both locations offer this one, so try it next time you are there.
Following the great Southern tradition of celebrating with friends and neighbors over barbecue, next time you’re near a Dead End BBQ, grab a seat on the patio and order your favorite dish. Invite your friends to join you, or make new ones while you’re there. Most importantly, don’t forget to ask your server for excellent pairing suggestion!
Knoxville Beverage Company