Celebrate with BBQ & WINE Pairings hosted by Chris Lilly and Heath Porter at the 2012 2nd Annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival

Sommelier Heath Porter and Pit Master Chris Lilly put their skills together and treat us to surprising and uncommon pairings with WINE and BBQ.


Hey Guys! The 2nd Annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival 2012 was fabulous! This three-day event celebrated the South by showcasing the region’s award-winning chefs,mixologists,pitmasters and experts in wine. I spent three luxurious days and nights sampling some of the finest Southern cuisine around,hanging out with the chefs that created such authentic and unique food to define and honor Southern Cuisine as I sipped on cocktails and wine that paired perfectly with the South.
After a couple of days recovery and sensible eating, I am looking forward to sharing MY favorite wine and culinary adventures that I experienced during an amazing event that pays homage to the unmistakable flavors of the South!

Ever wonder what wine pairs best with BBQ?

Memorial Weekend officially kicks off grilling season and what better way to get the answer was taking a class by two rock stars of food and wine: Chris Lilly and Heath Porter.

Chef Chris Lilly is one of America’s best known BBQ Pitmasters. Not only is he the head chef and partner of world famous Big Bob Gibson BBQ restaurant in Alabama, he is also the head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson BBQ Competition Cooking Team and the winner of 10 World BBQ Championships including three Memphis in May Grand Championships and eight state competitions throughout the Southeast. To top it off, he has been a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation,written several cookbooks and is the National Spokesperson for Kingsford Charcoal. On May 23nd, he will be a judge for the Kingsford Charcoal Steak Championship in New York and our own Chef Willie Thomas of Park Cafe will be competing to win the title. (Check out my previous post on this upcoming event!)

The ROCK STAR of Wine! There is just no other way to describe this country’s most knowledgable expert on wine, Heath Porter. What a dream job he has! He is the director of wine at the famous Greenbrier in West Virginia. His expertise comes from many years of hands on experience in the food/wine industry and is also an advanced level sommelier bestowed upon him by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Both Chris and Heath made the class enjoyable and very entertaining by their wit and humor while we discovered great wines and how to pair them with BBQ.

From left to right, four different sauces prepared by Chris were paired with wines selected by Heath.
#1 Vinegar-based North Carolina-style sauce: a combination of apple cider vinegar,honey,brown sugar,cayenne and other spices.

#2 Mustard-based South Carolina-style sauce:mustard,honey,brown sugar and spices.

#3 Championship Sauce-a traditional tomato-based and smokey sauce and of course THIS is the sauce of all of the BBQ Championship competitions!

#4 Sweet Glaze-a combination of flavors such as blackberry,cherry and jalapeño that is great for a rib glaze at the end of the cooking to give a shiny an extra-flavorful dimension to the ribs.

We were served a plate of Chris’s award-winning slow-smoked pork shoulder to sample and compare with each of the sauces and the selected wines. This class was held at 10:30am. What a delicious way to start a day.I could used to this quickly!

Four Wines from different areas of the globe:France,California,Italy and Austrian wines were paired up with four styles of BBQ sauces from different areas of the South. At first,these may be uncommon pairings BUT these are pairings that work well. Think of the table talk at your next BBQ event!

Champagne and BBQ! Yes!

My favorite wine IS Champagne. Sparkling with acidity and berry-flavored bubbles,I think anytime is a good time to sip on champagne-especially the pink ones!
The French Champagne Besserat de Bellefon pale pink champagne is an intensely flavored sparkling wine with red berries and strawberries on the palate and mouthwatering acidity. Pairing up the acidities of the(#1) North Carolina vinegar-based sauce and of the champagne enhances the flavors of both the sauce and wine. Great combination!

Patz and Hall 2010 100% Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir is full of fresh cherry and raspberry with hints of spice such as cinnamon and vanilla and silky tannins along with bright acidity – the hallmark of cooler growing season of the Sonoma area. The notes of chocolate and earth further the intensity of this wine. The acidity and sweet flavors of (#2)mustard-based (and honey) South Carolina sauce combined the smokey pork shoulder paired with the Pinot Noir but did not overpower this well-structured wine.

Terradora Aglianico Campania, Italy IGT 2009
Ever thought about pairing an Southern Italian wine with a Southern American BBQ?
After all, Italian wines are considered food wines and this one is no exception to another sensational pairing. The Italian indigenous grape Aglianico produces a medium plus bodied ruby red wine that is soft and supple with black cherry,blackberry and plum fruit flavours with spicy, toasted overtones. The tannins,acidity and fruit stands up to complex and bold flavors of the Championship BBQ sauce and pork. Aglianico wines are yet another way to pair up with summer grilling. Terradora Aglianico would be a great pairing with a thick and juicy burger too!

Zantho 100 % Zweigelt Burgenland, Austria
The indigenous grape Zweigelt(a crossing of two Austrian grapes) is the popular red grape variety in Austria. Zweiglet wines are well-structured,spicy and juicy with fresh,ripe black cherry Warm spices such as vanilla,cinnamon and sassafras are the perfect complement to the the sweet,savory and spicy glaze; Paired up a juicy,dry rubbed steak with this wine would be Divine!

Heath’s discussion on wine pairings was fun and informative. I am glad this class was on my schedule!



Chris Lilly Shares his Championship Recipe for Smoked Pork Shoulder at the 2012 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and you too can serve up some of the best smoked pork you will ever have!


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