Cost: Average price $9.99
Where buy now: The Wine Thief for $8.99
Grapes: 100% Monastrell
Region: Yecla, Spain
What do you think of when you lust for the golden green of Spring? That's right- BBQ. You can be anyone/thing: carnivorous being, gluten-free, vegan, Atkins dieter, you name it. As long as a fire is sounding off Pavlov's dogs, you've got yourself something.
A BBQ is an event, it's a reason to gather, nay, _the_ reason to gather, and likely the oldest meaningful reason.
Grilling is so fun! I love grilling vegetables. Eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms- line 'em up! Lamb chops seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary- head 'em up! Smoke some chicken, perhaps? We use whiskey barrel chips, soaked in water, then surrendered to the fire. Oh, let's not forget about the quintessential American standard, the almighty hamburger - ride 'em in! Sure, have it your way: angus burger, kobe beef burger, turkey burger, bison burger, ostrich burger. Or hell, I love me a black bean burger! To blow your mind, my old pal Jer grills huge portabellas, slathers on the BBQ sauce, then slaps it on a bun. (Ooooohhhh. *Ahem* Are we still talking about BBQ?) Or, the mother of all things grilled & smoked, RIBS! Oh, sweet Sally Struthers, they're good. All I can say is thank goodness Ted Cook's isn't in my neighborhood because within 48 hours, I'd be relegated to wearing a moo moo.
Simply stating that eating and drinking wine is complementary is almost missing the point. I get transformed, truly. My husband has caught me doing what he refers to as "the happy food dance". Mid bite to final swallow, I'll sit and bob my head back and forth, sometimes even humming. It's like I'm possessed by the Adephagia http://www.goddessaday.com/greek/adephagia/Adephagia poltergeist. I'd rather be "big boned" and indulge in this stupor, than face an alternative.
Do you know what I ended up pairing with the red of the week? A Spanish Monastrell and… BBQ chips. Yep, dinner du jour. If it hasn't yet occurred to you, let me enlighten: I was Homer Simpson in a former life.
This is a bottle off the "under 10" section at The Wine Thief. It's a Spanish wine (surprise, surprise) but it is decidedly not Rioja. This one is a Monastrell (Spanish for Mourvedre). It's a popular grape, second only to Garnacha in Spain. I'm not going to dive into the history, but will encourage you to: http://www.i-winereview.com/NonReportTastings/0910montastrellSelections.php/Monastrell
Lately, I've been chatting up Rioja's value. Many of the best bang-for-buck wines are going to continue to come out of Spain, according to my sources. A departure from my beloved Rioja region, which is North Central Spain, I moved Southeast to the Yecla region. These wines are gaining in popularity as the wine making continues to improve. The Monastrell grape is a thick, black skinned fruit and they are finicky little buggers. They grow in very hot climates so the trick is letting them grow and stress enough, then cultivating them quickly before they go bad. The wine these grapes produce can really vary, mostly depending on seasonal temperatures.
The Castaño Monastrell is dark rich red in color, not as dark as the Graciano http://www.thesavvylush.com/red-wine-of-the-week-|-red-wine-reviews/rio-madre-rioja.html/Rio Madre (or as full bodied). However, this wine has character. I'm declaring this "The Spanish Zin"- sans the jamminess, but with lively juiciness. It reeks of dark berry, earth and smoke. Like a Zinfandel, it has more tannins in the flavor, which my husband refers to as "stank". The finish isn't long, but it teases you with a bit of spicy sweetness. This wine, like a Zin, is begging you to drink with some smoky BBQ. Or, in my case, the sad-clown snack of BBQ Pop Chips (which are surprisingly delicious, especially with this wine).
Buy up a bunch because you'll swill this guy all Summer long! It's so easy-breezy, drink-it-on-a-Tuesday night while catching up on your new favorite TV series or on the patio with the family. It's going to give you an interesting and fun twist to the Rioja (Garnacha, Tempranillos, etc.) you've already been enjoying at a great price.
Blaze away, you golden green cowpoke, you.