In the Lone Star State, barbecue inflames more passionate debate than politics. Yet, it’s simply slow-smoked meat. Your choice of meat, rub and sauce defines what kind of Texan you are.
While much past acclaim focused on rural barbecue joints, the trend has clearly come to the city (think Franklin Barbecue in Austin, where even President Obama stood on line). And without the dry county limitations prevalent in small-town Texas, the traditional iced “sweet” tea is being replaced by spirited libations, including wine.
“My wine buddies in New York and San Francisco, when they come home, they want Texas barbecue,” says June Rodil, MS, the wine and beverage director for a group of six Austin restaurants. “The full-dining scene is changing, and barbecue is becoming mainstream, so wine fits in as a natural evolution.”
Three hotspots that hit the high-low tone just right:
Located in the old Pearl Brewery, now a culinary epicenter that has helped revitalize downtown San Antonio, The Granary showcases Texas beer, some even made on premise. But its stamp is a small, well-chosen wine list that ranges from Franciacorta rosé to Australian Vermentino and Napa Valley Cabernet. Diners can request a reserve list that includes Albert Bichot 2012 Les Malconsorts Premier Cru Vosne-Romanée, Château Cos d’Estournel 2007 Saint-Estèphe and Dönnhoff 2013 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese. Chef and owner Tim Rattray recently hosted a barbeque and Riesling pairing dinner so popular that he added several top-notch Rieslings to his permanent wine list.
When Justin and Diane Fourton moved from their (dry) Dallas Farmers Market shed to the offbeat Deep Ellum neighborhood, beer and wine became an option. Beer is a focus here, but Justin’s signature beef ribs, brisket and pork make perfect pairings with the diverse selection of robust reds and whites from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina and California on Pecan’s list. Riedel stemware, pairing recommendations and bottles like a Côte-du-Rhône Villages from Féraud-Brunel and an Amador County Zinfandel from Easton drive home the perfect match of casual and classy.
Ensconced in a historic building in Austin, Lamberts is part of the McGuire Moorman Hospitality group, which has ratcheted up the city’s dining in all categories. For Lamberts, Rodil has composed a list with choices ranging from Doyard’s Cuvée Vendémiaire Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne to Domaine du Closel’s La Jalousie Savennières and Pax’s Castelli-Knight Ranch Syrah from Russian River Valley. A reserve list showcases a handful of “New California” and Old World classics.