Warm-Weather Wine Pairings: Chenin Blanc and BBQ

It's easy to think cold beer when it comes to barbecue, but there's nothing like a great wine to complement your favorite BBQ mains and fixin's. With warmer weather on the horizon and barbecue on the brain, I decided to step up the spice game on a traditional, homemade sauce by adding harissa, a spicy and aromatic chili paste (also in powder form) that's a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.

Harissa recipes vary between countries and regions, but a standard version includes a blend of hot smoked chili peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices. Added to homemade BBQ sauce makes for the perfect Chenin Blanc pairing, like the 2014 Chenin from Oldenburg Vineyards. This subtly oaked, yet fuller-bodied Chenin stood up nicely to the harissa-spiced BBQ sauce that was poured over oven-baked chicken wings.

Are you salivating yet? Let's get started...

To start, clean your chicken wings under cool water and remove any additional pieces of fat with a pairing knife. Next, marinate. I decided to make a dry rub using a mix of preferred spices: salt, black pepper, allspice, ground mustard, smoked paprika and harissa. I massaged the dry rub into the chicken, then let the wings marinate in a bowl, covered with saran wrap, for about half an hour in the refrigerator. Feel free to use your favorite spices to create your own dry rub, or use a dressing or sauce to marinate.

While the wings are marinating, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Once heated, lay your wings in a single layer, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook the wings for 10 minutes, flip each one, and then bake another 15 minutes until golden brown. Once the wings are cooked, place them in a large bowl.

Harissa-Spiced BBQ Sauce

  • 2 1/3 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons harissa powder. If you can handle it, add another one, but make sure you taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  1.  Combine ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about half an hour.
  3. Smother over your crispy, baked wings, take a pic for the 'gram and enjoy!

Got a favorite BBQ and wine pairing? Tell me about it in the comments below and stay tuned for more warm-weather wine pairings over the next few days.

Thanks to Colangelo & Partners for providing the Oldenburg Chenin!