While summer temperatures are soaring, that does not mean wine drinkers are limited to chilled white and rosé wines. Red wine drinkers don’t need to take a hiatus from enjoying red wine just because the weather is warm. There are red wines from around the world that work well in warm weather and with summer cuisine.
At this time of year, barbecued ribs specifically enter my mind. Whether cooked on the patio in someone’s backyard or at one of Lincoln’s many establishments that produce great ribs, these are a summer treat I look forward to every year. For me, ribs are a perfect food to pair with wine. The intensity of the flavors and the tender juiciness of the meat scream for a nice wine.
For this project I grabbed an order of ribs from Buster’s at 48th Street and Normal Boulevard. They make St. Louis-style ribs that literally fell off the bone when I picked one up. These ribs are deep-smoked and firm, a substantial cut of meat that has a tasty blend of spices that integrate perfectly with the meat. Buster’s sends along a serving of tasty barbecue sauce, but it’s not needed. The meat speaks for itself.
For wines, I was looking for red wines that would have the right balance of fruit and acidity and that would be light enough to drink on the patio on their own and would enhance the ribs, as well. Before this tasting I chilled the red wines for about 20 minutes. I started with Elena Walch Schiava, 2018, Alto Adige, Italy, $17. This winery is located in the far north of Italy in the mountains. Elena Walch, the matriarch of the winery, is an icon in Italian wine. Her wines win awards in every vintage. This Schiava sets the standard for the varietal. The wine is light ruby red in the glass and is expressive on the nose with floral scents of lavender, ripe cherry and rhubarb. The wine is delicate on the palate with ripe cherry and bright red raspberry notes that dance on the palate. The wine is unique, distinguished and outstanding. 89 points
Next, I tried Chateau Coupe Roses “Bastide” Rouge, Minervois, France, 2018, $19. This wine is from the hillsides north of the Mediterranean Sea in southwest France. A blend of primarily carignan and grenache with a splash of syrah, the wine is deep garnet in the glass and offers aromas of rose pedals, black plum and spice. The wine has a robust mouthfeel with a bit of weight but is soft and easy to drink with intense flavors of blackberry, herbs and hint of anise. 88 points
The last wine I tried was Les Lauzeraies, Tavel, Rhone, France, 2018, $18. From a region in the southern Rhone valley of France famous for this style of dark juicy rose, this wine is almost like a light version of red wine. It’s dark pink in the glass and has compelling Bing cherry, quince and strawberry notes that emanate from the glass. This wine has bright acidity that explodes on the palate with expressive raspberry, unripe Washington cherry and tangy citrus finish. A gorgeous wine. 88 points
This is an ideal group of wines for summer wine enjoyment. Each of the wines showed well for what they had to offer and are great to drink on their own. They were even better with the ribs from Buster’s. But the Schiava from Elena Walch emerged as a distinct pairing success. The juiciness and spiciness from the ribs brought out an intensity of fruit from the wine that I did not expect. In turn, the wine brought out even more flavors of smoke and spice that may have remained hidden without the wine.
This tasting served as a reminder to me that when I want something spectacular for a wine-food pairing, it’s almost always best to avoid common wine varieties sold in quantity but rather try something I never would have thought of. Each of these wines are unique, produced in small quantities and not always easy to find. But when you can find them, they are always a treat!
Mark McDonald and his wife Kim own The Italian Vine, a Lincoln-based wine distributorship. They recently lived in Italy for several years and studied and developed a passion for wine that inspired them to open their own enterprise.
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