Can You Mess With Texas-Style BBQ Brisket and Wine?

January 20, 2013

What, no beer? That's right, it was time to find out if wine could hang with Texas-style BBQ brisket. (Smoked in Seattle.) Through a serendipitous chain of events, I was introduced to Jack Timmons of the Seattle Brisket Experience. He volunteered his home, his smoker, and his brisket to a motley crew of food and wine pros who contributed their wine picks and BBQ palates. With bottles from California, Oregon, Washington, and Europe, it turned into a good-natured showdown.

texas bbq brisket and wineI had an ace in the hole. Or rather, in the bottle. Representing Europe, I went Italian for one of my picks: a dry Lambrusco. The Ca' Montanari Secco, a sample provided by the good folks at A.I. Selections and A&B Imports, was the perfect pick to show off Lambrusco as one of the best wines in the world for cured and/or smoked meats. And with Jack's purist approach for the brisket, seasoned with only salt and pepper, I figured I had the wine pairing crown in hand before the event began. A well-chilled wine with refreshing bubbles to cut through all that rich, smoky meat would clearly be my path to victory.

And, indeed, it was a fine match. But two wines really surprised me, vying for the crown. If not outright stealing it from me. The first was an Oregon wine brought by Clive Pursehouse from the Northwest Wine Anthem. The 2010 Stoller JV Pinot Noir was, surprisingly, not overmatched by the substantial bulk and flavor of the brisket. The lack of a everybody-in-the-pool spice rub, as well as having sauce only on the side, made for a good pairing with lighter style wines. The Stoller's zip and refreshment was welcome with a meat that had an uncomplicated profile of pure deliciousness.

But none of us were prepared for a wine that, in the words of one attendee, "shocked the world." Or at least the room. It was a surprise entrant, a wine from...Texas?!? But, hey, doesn't a wine from Texas deserve, no demand, a place at a brisket-laden table? Brought by Seattle Weekly Food Critic Hanna Raskin, who sought advice from her Texas connections before purchasing her contribution, the bottle of 2010 McPherson La Herencia met the challenge of its national and international wine brethren. A blend of Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, it had a certain, well, smokiness that made it a welcome addition to the brisket's dance card.

I already knew not to mess with Texas. Or Texas-style brisket. I may still mess with Texas wine, but only at my own risk.

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