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A Brief Guide to Red Wine Pairing

An excellent red wine pairing strikes a chord with the senses.  The right dishes emphasize specific, desirable characteristics of the wine, and the right red wine will bring out the best qualities in your meal.  The result is the perfect harmony of flavors. 

This article aims to serve up a brief guide on suggestions for red wine pairing and the unique tasting experience that can play out between full flavored red wines and the most complementary foods. A bold recipe for Untamed Spicy BBQ Ribs is included at the end of the article.

Guiding Principles for Food and Red Wine Pairing

In pairing wines, there are some widely accepted principles that serve as a guide when choosing what to order or what to cook.  These are not rules, however, and there will always be exceptions. Discovering a combination of flavors and characteristics that create a unique pairing experience is what makes life interesting!

Generally, food should complement wine, never overpower it. That is the principle behind the common recommendation that a red wine be paired with food that has a bold flavor profile.  The wine won’t overwhelm the food nor will the food overwhelm the wine. That’s true balance and harmony. 

Red wine is recommended for heartier fare, such as red meats, bold sauces and robust spices, while white wine is generally recommended for lighter white meats, seafood and lightly seasoned poultry dishes.  Not all seafood is created equal and there are certainly dishes that would defy this recommendation. For instance, a red wine may be perfect with flame-seared ahi tuna or spicy blackened salmon due to their higher fat content and more robust flavor.  You may even explore white meat dishes such as smoked chicken or pork tenderloin, crusted with peppercorn or sauced in a rich gravy.

 Often possessed of strong tannins, red wine pairs best with fatty, umami qualities.  Umami is the Japanese word to describe a distinctive taste that transcends the traditional descriptions of salty, sweet, bitter, and sour.  In the US, we often associate umami with butter and garlic.  Some sauces, such as soy sauce, were created to achieve umami. 

Speaking of sauces, a richly layered sauce will take precedence as the dominant flavor profile of your meal, over the cut of meat or type of protein. In other words, you should pair your wine with the main flavor or focus of the meal.  This may take more finesse than simply relying on the type of protein you choose.   Rich, meaty sauces are excellent with red wine, like a bolognese, au jus or BBQ mop sauce. White, or lighter sauces such as bearnaise, alfredo or a lemony piccata may not fare so well against a full bodied red and vinaigrettes tend to be too acidic for a red wine.

Lastly, red wine often has underlying earthy flavor qualities. This makes it a likely match for such foods as slightly gamey venison or duck.  Mushrooms, which combine both a meaty texture and an earthy flavor, are also often paired with red wine.  Many pizzas and tomato-based pastas will pair well with a good red wine blend.  Often adding wine to your dish in the process of cooking, as in a home-made marinara sauce or a bolognese will further marry the flavors and make for an elevated pairing.

Choosing a Red Wine for the Ultimate Food Pairing

To achieve the perfect food pairing, you must start with a great wine.   Limited Release Rum Barrel Red Wine Blend is an especially good example of what a complex, layered red wine can be. It is made primarily from Syrah and Merlot grapes picked at the peak of flavor and tannin ripeness. Some Petite Syrah is included in the blend for an added subtle pepper and savoriness. 

A portion of the wine is aged in Rum Barrels to impart lovely aromas and notes of baking spice, nutmeg and deeply toasted oak. The balance of the wine, aged on French and American oak, offers luscious red fruit and boysenberry jam with notes of vanilla. The structure is savory with velvety tannins and a lingering finish. 

This wine is the best companion for a bold food pairing such as, grilled flank steak or  hearty BBQ. This is a very versatile Red Wine Blend, with so many nuances and layers of flavor in play. You’ll want to experience this wine with a variety of foods and discover the pairing that best suits your palate.

To discover Three Finger Jack wines, you may order online or find it nearby at a local  restaurant or store.   Please enjoy responsibly.

Untamed Spicy BBQ Ribs: Rum Barrel Red Wine Blend Food Pairing

Enjoy the untamed flavors of this spicy, saucy rib recipe that is sure to be a showstopper at your next barbeque. Pork ribs are smoked over the fire then slathered with delicious and spicy sauce.  Don’t forget to grab a couple bottles of Three Finger Jack Rum Barrel Aged Red Blend to enjoy with it.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 6 Hours

Total Time: 6 Hours, 20 Minutes


2 racks of baby back ribs 

1 bottle of spicy BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cup of apple juice

1/2 cup of brown sugar

3 tbsp of chili powder

2 tbsp of garlic powder

2 tbsp of onion powder

2 tbsp of smoked paprika

2 tbsp of cumin

2 tbsp of black cracked pepper

2 tbsp of sea salt

1 tbsp of red chili flakes

1 tsp of cayenne powder

Olive oil used for lathering


1. In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper, sea salt, red chili flakes & cayenne powder thoroughly.

2. Take the 2 rack of ribs and generously lather olive oil on both sides. Then, cover with the spices that you mixed above.

3. Use charcoal to light fire and let burn for 15-20 minutes. Once charcoal is hot, push to one side of the grill for indirect grilling.

4. Place ribs on the opposite side of the charcoal for 3 hours. Make sure to only check a couple of times as when the lid is up the meat is not cooking.

5. Pull ribs off and place in 2 layers of tin foil. Pour in the apple juice, wrap the tin foil and place the ribs back on the grill, indirectly, for 2 more hours.

6. Finally, pull the ribs off the grill, remove tin foil and baste them in the spicy BBQ sauce.

7. Place ribs back on the grill for another hour. Add more BBQ sauce as needed. Make sure to also keep adding charcoal if needed.

8. Pull the ribs off the grill, let cool, serve, pour a glass of wine Three Finger Jack & enjoy the game!

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