This month, Nickel & Nickel Winemaker Joe Harden, Private Client Services' Sean Marshall and more of our top food and wine pros are paying tribute to all things seared, slow-smoked and flame-kissed. From Joe's pursuit of brisket perfection to Sean Marshall's fully loaded lamb burgers, they share what they're throwing on the grill, along with the bottles they’re uncorking while they cook.
Tie on your chef's apron, grab your grilling tongs and get inspired by these wine and barbecue picks and tips!
Joe Harden, Nickel & Nickel Winemaker
Brisket + Nickel & Nickel Quarry Vineyard Cabernet
“With temps cruising into the 90s, I’m all for slow smoking a brisket and waiting until the sun starts to set to open a bottle of Quarry Vineyard Cabernet. Along with a fresh salad from our garden, it’s all we need for an epic summer night. I just started a MasterClass on perfecting the art of the brisket. When it comes to smoking brisket, I’m old school. I tend to draw a lot of parallels to winemaking. I use old barrel staves to light the smoker, and to keep the temperature constant, with fluctuations under five degrees, I have to understand my materials, the weight of the wood, the density and burn times. Then, because I really want the pure flavors of the meat to come through, I keep the seasoning simple – a dry rub and a spritz of dark beer or apple cider vinegar. After that, it’s all about patience, figuring out when to pay attention to the meat and when to leave it alone.”
Sean Marshall, Private Client Services Concierge
Lamb Burgers + Nickel & Nickel Darien Vineyard Syrah
“My go-to for summer barbecues is the Darien Syrah. It’s soft, velvety, lush, round and works perfectly with a lamb burger. Having great ground lamb is key, however, for me, it’s all about loading up on high-quality toppings. I’ll start by caramelizing the onions and while they develop that great golden color, I’ll get the barbecue going and sear the lamb. I’ll throw some triple cream blue cheese on top of my burger, and while everything comes together, I’ll fill a glass with Darien Syrah … which I obviously sip while I’m grilling.”
Donna Blevins, Customer Service Specialist
Grilled Rib Eye or Smoked Pineapple Sausage + Nickel & Nickel Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
My family loves the nights we grill out because it often means I'm making my homemade potato salad (the secret ingredient is a squirt of mustard!). I’m a meat-and-potatoes girl, so potato salad alongside a seared ribeye is one of our favorites. All it needs is a few twists of salt and pepper to draw out its flavors and textures. Add a glass of lush, full-bodied single-vineyard Cabernet and all that well-marbled meat grows even more tender and juicy. If we're camping, we sometimes swap the rib eye for smoked pineapple sausage, which also get more juicy and flavorful when you pair them with Napa Valley Cabernet. Right now, we're particularly taken with the dark fruit and rich tannins of Nickel & Nickel Kenefick Ranch Cabernet.
Shane Price, Certified Sommelier
When I moved from Tennessee to California in 2017, I kept hearing about this legendary meat that I did not understand: tri-tip. Later that year, the Far Niente Hospitality Team had their inaugural fantasy football draft, and Sean Marshall showed up with the best meat I have ever tasted. Low and behold it was that triangular cut of meat from the bottom of the sirloin, tri-tip. Now, any time a group of friends come over, my go-to summer barbecue move is opening a bottle of my favorite single-vineyard Cabernet from Nickel & Nickel, the John C. Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet, and getting the tri-tip ready for the grill. The Sullenger Cabernet has beautiful fruit, spice, floral, and mineral components all in balance, while the structure of the tannins and full body complement the richness of the meat. Quick Tip: Tri-tip really takes on the flavor of whatever seasoning you use. Choose your spices carefully. Hot spices like cayenne will clash with the tannins in the Cabernet, and both the wine and the food will come across as bitter.
Looking for more great wine and barbecue suggestions? Get inspired by more of our favorite grilling wines here. Then stock up on cedar grilling planks, artisanal olive oils (harvested from olive groves planted up on Napa Valley's Atlas Peak!) and more great grilling gear. Salut to summer!
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