My Living Will
Last night, my wife and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her "I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." She got up, unplugged the computer, and poured my wine down the drain.
Champagne with barbecue?
It's surprisingly good! The bubbles cleanse the palate of the sweet and heat, the acidity cuts the fat, and it just makes everything more festive. Madame Bollinger (1884 - 1977), one of the grande dames of French Champagne, said it best: "I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes, I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it if I am; Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty."
Brew for Cue, Wine for Swine, and Booze Too
"I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported." Mae West
The key in selecting the right drink to accompany barbecue is to focus on your choice of sauce because barbecue sauces are so aggressive and tend to dominate the flavor profile. I put this proposal to some experts, and below is a list of some pretty good options. Click here for websites that have good buying guides for wine, beer, and spirits.
For hot sauces
Matching drinks with hot spicey capsaicin laden food is very difficult. The best thing for putting out a capsaicin fire is lipids. Fats. A drink with fats? Milk. But a milkshake with ribs is not my fivorite food and drink combo.
Brew. If the sauce is hot, I usually reach for a beer that has a noticeable sweetness and does not have a lot of hops and its attendant bitterness. That's often a standard boring old American lager. I asked my beer maven friend Marty Nachel, author of Beer Across America, Beer for Dummies, and Homebrewing for Dummies for some other recommendations. He says "Try a Munich helles, a Marzenbier/Oktoberfest, a Vienna style beer, or an English brown ale. If you appreciate dark beers, give bock, doppelbock, or Belgian dubbel a look."
Wine. You want a chilled wine with low alcohol, light body, and a hint of sweetness, say 2-4%, to help cool the fire. Try a rose, blush, a New York Riesling, or a German Kabinett. German red wines are hard to find but work great with these sauces because they are fresh and fruity and have that hint of sweetness.
For sweet sauces
Brew. Go dry and hopsy. Nachel says "Consider an English Extra Special Bitter (ESB), German Schwarzbier (black beer), or an Altbier."
Wine. There are two paths to follow: (1) Go for something dry with bubbles such as French Champagne, dry American sparkling wines, or Spanish Cava, or (2) go for a big red such as a zinfandel or syrah from California or a Shiraz from Australia (shiraz and syrah are two names for the same grape).
Spirits. Whiskey on the rocks. My first choice is an All-American Bourbon or its cousin Tennessee sippin' whiskey like Jack Daniels, aged brown rum, Canadian, Scotch, or even Cognac.
For hot and sweet sauces
Brew. According to Nachel, "You need the malty sweetness to offset the heat, yet you want something drier to balance the sweetness. A good Czech Pilsner or a Dortmunder will do the job."
Wine. If the sauce is both hot and sweet, try sweet sparkling wines like Asti Spumante or Kir Royale, which is a blend of sparkling wine with creme de cassis. Now all you wine snobs out there: Yes, I said Asti. Before you jump down my throat, know that when I was the wine critic for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, AOL, and publisher of a wine mag, I was ranked one of the top 10 most influential wine critics in the world, so I didn't just fall off the Cold Duck truck. Try it and quite sending me hate mail. You're why I left the wine biz.
Spirits. Go for a good brown whiskey on the rocks with a splash of water.
This page was revised 7/14/08
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