Pinot Noir BBQ Sauce is what happens when the combination of the delicate flavors of Pinot Noir wine and the bold flavors of BBQ sauce collide.
Shortly after we got The Beast (aka our commercial smoker) we started a catering company. At the time, my husband/partner was still working his day job, and he had never worked in the restaurant industry (unless you count the one time he worked as a busboy when he was in high school). So we decided to focus on small and private events until he got a grasp of things. While I have a restaurant and events background, we still knew we wanted to take things slow.
Our second big event was held at Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood River, Oregon. Phelps Creek called upon us to cater their annual summer wine club event, and in particular, to make pulled pork sandwiches with an original barbecue sauce recipe (below).
We decided to take it up a notch by using their Pinot Noir IN the sauce.
Pairing Wine and BBQ
Pairing wine and BBQ can be tricky, especially when the wines are more delicate in nature, like Pinot Noir for example. And Phelps Creeks wines, their Pinot Noirs in particular, are not the type of bold in-your-face powerful wines typically associated with BBQ. They are subtle, balanced, and delicate with a lot of complexities. To pair these wines with a traditional bold Kansas City style barbecue sauce full of sweet tomatoes and heat would have seriously overpowered these beautiful wines.
The purpose of this event was to showcase their wines, not overpower the guests’ palates with bold barbecue flavors that would have ultimately drowned out the wines.
For that reason, we decided to use one of their Pinot Noirs as a base to create a BBQ sauce. One that would not only mirror the flavors found in their wines, but also be mild enough so as not to upstage the wines.
Pinot Noir Wine BBQ Sauce
The sauce starts similar to many BBQ sauces, and but is then layered with wine and mild seasonings. Start by sautéing up some shallots and garlic, then season it up, add some red wine, reduce it, then add ketchup and simmer. Voila! It’s really as simple as that.
This isn’t an in-your-face BBQ sauce. Instead it’s complex, delicious, and one that you can safely use to finish off your favorite proteins with, and serve with a lighter style wine, like a Pinot Noir.
Weeks before the event we tested several variations until we found the jackpot recipe.
Basic Pinot Noir BBQ Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots diced (red onion works too, approx 1/3 cup of them)
- 2 garlic cloves finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 cup Pinot Noir or other light bodied red wine
- 1 cup ketchup
- Place olive oil and shallots into a saucepan set to medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Turn down heat if you see browning. Add garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes. Stir occasionally and watch out for browning.
- Into the saucepan add the chili powder, cayenne pepper and dry mustard and stir constantly, for one minute.
- Add the pinot noir and turn the heat up to high. Bring the pinot noir to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 5 to 7 minute, stirring occasionally. You want the pinot to reduce about 1/4 to 1/3 for flavor.
- Add ketchup and bring back up to a simmer again while stirring for about five minutes then remove from heat, let cool and place in a container.
The day of the big event I sadly couldn’t attend as I was on my way back from France at the time. Lucky for us though our good friends Becky and Zack volunteered to help Sean prep and execute the event. Not only that, but Becky, a photographer, also took photos (thanks Becky!!). Sean couldn’t have got through that day without their help! Lesson learned: don’t try to cater an event for 100+ people solo!
I was on pins and needles the whole day waiting to hear how things went. The report came back successful! Everyone seemed to love the pork, the BBQ sauce, and, of course, the wines.
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