Reading Sandra Crittenden’s post about tasting Cantele wines with Texas bbq on her excellent blog Wine Thoughts got me hankering for some bbq myself.
And so I went and picked up some meat at our favorite local bbq pit here in Austin, Texas: Stiles Switch on North Lamar.
The brisket — the cornerstone of Texas bbq — is always great there. But lately, the pork ribs (above) have been outstanding. These babies literally fall apart when you pick them up and as tender and flaky as they are, they’re never dry. That’s the litmus test of great Texas bbq: the “low and slow” application of heat has to retain the meat’s own juices.
For my wine pairing, I grabbed a bottle of the 2009 Cantele Salice Salentino that I had chilled slightly in the fridge (at our house, we generally chill our red wine in the summertime; not to the point of attenuating their aromas and flavors but making them more refreshing when temperatures rarely dip below the mid-90s here in Central Texas).
There’s a “meaty” quality to Gianni Cantele’s Salice Salentino that I crave when we’re eating salty and slightly spicy meat at our house. It’s a characteristic of Negroamaro in general but winemaker Gianni delivers his such nuanced finesse that it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor profile of the wine (for the record, Gianni’s Salice Salentino is made mostly from Negroamaro from the winery’s best growing sites, with smaller amounts of Malvasia Nera).
The pairing was brilliant, with the red fruit and red berry fruit of the wine flirting and teasing with the saltiness, juiciness, and fattiness of the ribs — as if rubbing pomegranate and dried cherry jam over the crusty “dry rub” of the ribs and massaging their gelatin fat.
But the thing that took it over the top was the zinging acidity and the way that it played — unafraid and unfettered — with the spiciness of the rub.
I kept thinking about what east coast wine professional and Italian expert Morgan Pruitt said when he tasted with Paolo few weeks ago at Tarry Wine in Port Chester, NY: “Nice to see such fresh wines from Puglia.”
The wine was just so fresh and refreshing that it washed down the salt and fat of the dish with the greatest ease. I didn’t even crave a glass of water after the meal like I usually do when I eat something this salty.
Smart, focused, delicious wine… True to the grape variety and indicative of the appellation (in a blind tasting, I’d get this wine every time) but created with food-friendliness and versatility in mind.
Beautiful wine, Gianni! You ought to come visit us sometime in Texas to see what real bbq is all about.