Last Saturday, I found myself caught up in the confluence of two delicious circumstances: a family member had gifted us with an electric smoker, and I had a bottle of Messina Hof Texas GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) wine in the cellar, begging to be opened. Even though I had been cooking up a storm over the holidays, I’d had a couple of weeks to recover, and I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get down to business again—but what was the perfect protein for my inaugural venture into smoked meats that would also pair well with my beautiful wine?
Sometimes, it takes a village. Enter the Texas Wine Drinkers Facebook group, where there are many aficionados and gourmands ready to provide helpful tips. Within a few hours of querying that group, I had helpful input from Russell Kane, Bill Burns, and Benjamin Calais, to name a few key co-conspirators. I paid particular attention to Benjamin’s suggestions because I know he’s been experimenting with his own smoker, and I certainly trust a winemaker to know about pairings. I decided to go with smoked pork loin ribs.
While I know some gifted, well-trained chefs, I’m not exactly one of them, but one thing I do know is that it all starts with a great cut of meat. So, hubby and I found ourselves at the door of Rudolph’s Meat Market in Deep Ellum the minute they opened on Saturday morning, picking up four pounds of St. Louis-cut pork loin ribs. During our visit, I took note of the many other wonderful meat cuts as well as spices and sauces, and I also got a bottle of North Main Bar-B-Q Rub to use in my process.
If you know or have ever known anyone who is into barbequing, you know that these obsessive enthusiasts can spend hours discussing the merits of cherry over apple wood, wet rubs versus dry rubs, binding agents, collagen breakdown, and all sorts of minutia. You’ll be happy to learn that I’m going to do none of that here and tell you that everything I know about smoking ribs I learned from Malcom Reed of howtobbqright.com. I watched this video and did exactly what he told me to, and the ribs that came out of my smoker were insanely good!
Now, instead of going into details about “Operation Electric Smoker,” I’ll get straight to the wine, which is the real centerpiece of this article.
Someone in the Texas Wine Drinkers group asked, “What is a GSM?” With all the books on wine that I own, you’d think I’d be able to pull one off the shelf and quickly point to a tidy explanation, but after thumbing through a couple of hefty volumes, I’m surrendering to the easily accessible article on the Wine Folly website. According to Wine Folly, “GSM” is a Southern Rhône-style blend made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. I expect to see more GSM blends here in Texas due to similarities in climate and topography between here and the Southern Rhône, and I was quite pleased to see Messina Hof including it in their line-up of fine wines. (If you’re new to Texas Wine, you can learn more about Messina Hof here on the Texas Wine Lover site or you can also visit their website.)
Messina Hof’s non-vintage Texas GSM has won several awards, including Gold medals at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo 2015 International Wine Competition and the Dallas Morning News & TEXSOM 2014 International Wine Competition. The breakdown by varietal is 9% Grenache, 50% Shiraz, and 41% Mourvèdre. It was aged over 12 months in American oak and released for the first time in 2014, and the suggested serving temperature is 65 degrees F.
I made sure to open the wine away from all the smoke and food odors to form a reliable first impression. Here are some details:
- Color: Bright, deep ruby with an opaque core, running toward magenta at the rim.
- Nose: Aromas of ripe cherry and blackberry are primary. Secondary notes are spicy clove and black pepper. Very little earth but perhaps a hint of warm, sunbaked soil.
- Initial Flavor: Cherry, blackberry, tart pomegranate, and a whisper of violet.
- Tannins and acid: Both are medium. Subtle and muted.
- Alcohol: Medium at 13%.
It’s good to formulate some idea about a wine on its own merits, but I always want something tasty to really bring out its full potential, especially a beautiful, exceptional wine like this one. After all those hours of research and preparation, I’m thrilled to say the investment in the process went to good use. When hubby and I would take a bite of rib and then a sip of wine, it practically gave us the shivers. As much as I like this wine on its own merits, as a pairing wine, it is extraordinary. It left plenty of room for the flavor of the ribs without being overpowered by it. My choice of apple wood as the smoke source proved spot on, and as we ate the sweet, tangy ribs with the wine, we got more flavors of candied apple or baked crabapple from the wine, drawing forth its full potential and taste profile.
Fortunately, you too can enjoy a similar experience by picking up a bottle of this lovely wine at the new Messina Hof Grapevine Winery in Grapevine, as well as their other locations in Bryan and Fredericksburg. Don’t feel up to the challenge of spending an entire day cooking ribs? Then follow this recipe: pick up some Messina Hof GSM, drop by your favorite BBQ joint and pick up some smoked meat, open your wine, and eat your food. Relax and repeat until finished!