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Wine and smoke

Q Are there not some classic wines, perhaps Chateauneuf-du-Pape that are typically recommended with smoky meats? I ask this as here in Texas we are big grillers and pit smokers of meat, meat, meat! I'm thinking there truly are wines that are good with smoked meats and wonder if you might recommend a couple.

A Reds are rarely mentioned for their compatibility with smokiness. If you talk about smoked chicken or smoked duck for instance, which in Europe will normally be served cold you're typically looking more at off-dry or sweet wines like a riesling spatlese. That sweetness also provides the key, in my view, to reds that go with smoked and barbecued meat which I would imagine (I can't claim to be an expert) need a red with a touch of sweetness much as curries do. Something like a young fruity Zinfandel or a Chilean Cabernet or Carmenère.

What I think you probably don't want - just as you should avoid them with spicy dishes - are heavily oaked young reds or ones that have a spicy component of their own like northern Rhone syrah. I think you're on the right track with Chateauneuf though it's quite an expensive proposition with a barbecue. A good Cotes du Rhone Villages would do the job and there are plenty of inexpensive southern French reds such as Faugeres, Costieres de Nimes or even Cotes du Roussillon that I suspect would work really well. Finally if you find a wine that's pure Mourvèdre or Mourvèdre-dominated that should be interesting. A wine that definitely does taste as if it includes smoke!

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