Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Which Wine? Twitter Sommeliers on BBQ Chicken and Coleslaw

Last week I was getting ready to put some chicken on the grill. I'd already made some coleslaw, and had the tomato-based spicy sauce ready to lather onto the birds. (photo by vbalchen)

Which wine?

I was feeling uninspired. There was only one thing I knew for sure--I didn't want Zinfandel. Not that I have anything against Zinfandel. I just wanted something different.

So I got on Twitter and asked folks to suggest a grape that might go with this dish. My Twitter sommeliers' suggestions included the following: Rosé, Viognier, Syrah, Malbec, and Sangiovese.

You can imagine the rest. I opened up a bottle of each and tried them out with the meal. Dinner proved to be a challenge because the BBQ sauce on the chicken was spicy and slightly sweet. The coleslaw, on the other hand, was earthy and tangy. Here are my tasting notes for the wines I drank, and they include verdicts on the food pairing--and suggested alternatives.

2007 The Crusher Wilson Vineyard Viognier (suggested retail $12.99; available from $11-$16.50) From a partnership between Don Sebastiani & Sons and Clarksburg's Wilson family, huge honeysuckle aromas greeted me on first opening this wine, followed by hay, citrus, and honey flavors. The wine was creamy in the midpalate, with a bright, zingy finish. Very good QPR at $13, but it wasn't a great match with the chicken or coleslaw. It would, however, be sensational with lemon-garlic grilled chicken, or some grilled fish or shrimp.

2007 Dievole Dievolino Toscana IGT (suggested retail $9.99; available for $9-$10) This Sangiovese was bright ruby in color with sour cherry and earthy aromas that are a bit shy at first. The sour cherry and raspberry palate has chalky tannins and an earthy aftertaste. Very good QPR for those looking for a traditional Sangiovese, but it wasn't a great match with the chicken or the coleslaw since these foods tended to accentuate the earthiness and pull the wine out of balance. Instead, think of pairing it with grilled mushrooms or some smoky sausages for a great outdoor dinner.

2005 Barton & Guestier Rosé d'Anjou (suggested retail $9.99, and available for that price)
This wine was made from Cabernet Franc grapes and was a lovely salmon pink in color. Honeycomb and raspberry aromas made for an enticing start, and this was followed by a strawberry and raspberry palate. The wine was a hair off dry--so it would be very nice with spicier foods than the chicken I was serving tonight. This wine was the best partner for the coleslaw, too. The fresh berry flavors were a nice counterpoint to the salad's earthiness. Very good QPR.

2007 Substance Malbec (suggested retail, $18; contact the winery for more information) This Malbec from Washignton State's Columbia Valley was excellent. A deep, dark Malbec with blueberry and blackberry aromas, it had a satiny texture and rich, fruit-forward taste with great underlying mineral notes. Nicely peppery aftertaste, too. This wine was the best partner for the chicken, and brought out the sweetly spicy BBQ sauce to perfection. Excellent QPR.

2006 Black Sheep Finds Syrah Hocus Pocus ($17.99, domaine547; available for $16-$21) I look forward to the new vintage of this wine every year, and actually managed to hold onto this bottle for a bit to see how it would develop. Though purchased at the end of 2007, it's drinking just beautifully now and has lovely fresh aromas of plum blossom, plum, and berry. Layers of allspice, cinnamon, and a hint of cloves add to the fruit and there is a nicely peppery finish. Lovely example of the grape, excellent QPR for a quality Syrah, and the appellation, and another great vintage from Black Sheep Finds. This wine was the best partner for BOTH the chicken and the coleslaw as it had just the right blend of sweetness and spiciness to marry with the dishes.

Thanks to all my friends on Twitter for serving as virtual sommeliers for the evening. It was so much fun I'm bound to do it again.

Full Disclosure: except for the Hocus Pocus Syrah, the other wines tasted were samples.


Anonymous said...

Yay! I was rooting for the syrah although I suggested giving a sangiovese a try. One I'd had recently might have been a good match (although it didn't work with the marinade with lemon mustard type my husband surprised me with knowing that I don't usually go for BBQ sauce!)

Great post, Deb! I'll watch for that Hocus Pocus!

jason said...

enjoyed this post. May have to try a version of this sometime soon!

Mattie John Bamman said...

I'm glad to hear the rose went well. I'm researching the rosatti of the Salento peninsula in Puglia, Italy and find the roses here have incredible structure, particularly the Leone De Castris Five Roses, which was Italy's first rose. I bet it would stand up well with the your killer BBQ. Nice educational post!

Sean said...

Clever post. I just sampled 2 roses with BBQ and found that the best rose for BBQ is a dark/robust rose.


outdoorgriller said...

That sounds good. I would have the whtie wine. White wine usually goes good with chicken or seafood and red wine for beef.If you would like to see the collection of recipes and tips I have for grilling you can visit

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. I think I'll do this again--and soon--because people came up with great suggestions and I really was kind of stumped. We all get by with a little help from our friends.