What’s in the Bottle? Finding libations for the barbecue

Here’s some fine wine suggestions to complement your summer grilling

Barbeque, BBQ, barbecue.

However you want to spell it, it’s a great way to socialize with friends and family. But where did the idea come from?

Anthropologists believe that humans began eating cooked foods somewhere between 2 million and 300,000 years ago. Some experts theorize that the idea of cooked meat came from early man eating animals killed during a forest fire.

Barbecue, as we know it, was first practiced by aboriginal peoples as a method of preserving food. The first written record of this practice came in the late 15th century when Spanish explorers found Aboriginals in the Caribbean drying meat on a raised wooden rack with a small fire made with green wood creating smoke.

The idea was to preserve the meat by drying it and to keeping insects off the food with the smoke.

The Spanish loved the flavor and took this idea of cooking back to Spain.

Fast forward to the 19th century in the United States and the practice of cooking meat over a slow fire with lots of smoke had spread from Virginia, south to the Carolinas, north up the Mississippi, and of course resulting in four very distinct styles of barbecue.

Memphis is known for its pork shoulder in tomato-based sauce, the Carolinas use a vinegar-based sauce, Kansas City uses dry rubs, and Texas is all about the beef, especially the beef brisket.

The main theme for all of these styles is low heat, smoke, and time. Most Pit Masters today will BBQ for 12 to 14 hours. The goal is to take inexpensive cuts of meat, cook low and slow, and it will come out fork tender.

Most of us today grill, not really BBQ (except my friend Marty), be it a gas grill or charcoal. Yet we all have the same question, what kind of libations do we drink with it?

Recently I went down to see the Happy Fishermen at French Creek and asked about getting some fresh salmon. Even though the chinook fishery is limited there seems to be more fish than anticipated.

One of my favorite ways to grill salmon is on a cedar plank with a sweet teriyaki sauce, deliciously accompanied with a Pinot Noir. I found three pinots’ that would do nicely. Kalala Vineyards from East Kelowna, La Crema from Sonoma County, and Aresti from Chile.

With steak and burgers, I gravitate to California Zinfandel and Spanish Rioja. These reds offer a lovely red fruit flavors, with a spicy quality brought on with oak aging.

If seafood is your favorite grilling fare, try a nice Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, or a fine Rose chilled on your veranda. Tomassi Pinot Grigio and Gheringer Pinot Gris are nice choices.


Peter Fenn is assistant manager of the Parksville North BC Liquor Store.

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