Smack Talk BBQ

Going head to head on 8 summer classics


May might officially have been National Barbecue Month, but we think any warm-weather month is enough of a reason to get the charcoal going! To celebrate, I’ve picked through some of the best barbecue recipes I could find, came up with a list of winners, then paired each recipe with the perfect wine – for my palate. To make things even more interesting, I’ve asked Hana Choi,’s talented editor, to offer her opinions on these same dishes.

Truth be told, I’m a rib man. St. Louis pork ribs, beef ribs and especially lamb ribs; but there’s more to ‘cue than what’s on the bone. Check out these great recipes and see whose palate you agree with more when it comes to wine pairings in this, our first installment of Snooth Smack Talk! Make sure to add your comments and let us know what you think about our choices, and what you would serve!

Pork Ribs - Greg

St. Louis-style pork ribs are based on trimmed full racks of meaty ribs, as opposed to the more tender baby back ribs, which are actually snippets of full racks taken from between the spare ribs and the spine.

My Memphis-style pork ribs enjoy a multi-step process that includes a wet overnight marinade, a drying period, followed by a dry rub which is allowed to penetrate the ribs over a second night followed by a slow smoking and a final crisping over hot coals on the grill. Lots of work, but they are so worth it! For an easier version, check out Memphis-style ribs by Steven Raichen on

I pair Memphis-style ribs with Zinfandel, but look for any elegant wine, since there’s no sweet sauce to compete with. Check out the wines from Talty, my new favorite Zin producer!

Pork Ribs - Hana

I’d venture to say that there are as many, if not more, rib recipes out there as there are versions of nonna’s Bolognese sauce. There seems to be a regional cut, sauce and marinade fit to please everyone’s palate – and I’m a fan of them all! Although, if pressed, I would say dry-rubbed baby backs are pretty hard to beat in my book.

Baby back ribs might be smaller, but they are tender with great flavor and because of their size, require a quicker cooking process (good when feeding large and hungry crowds).

Not only is this version by Paula Deen’s son, Bobby, convenient because it’s oven-baked, the sweet and spicy dry rub is simply delicious. When they’re done, I like to baste them with my favorite barbecue sauce and throw them on the grill for just a few minutes to get a nice smoky char on the surface, a perfect counterpoint to the falling-off-the-bone meat.

You might readily turn to a red for these ribs, but why not try a curveball with a white that pairs beautifully with a myriad of spicy food: Riesling. A wine like Chateau St. Jean Riesling Sonoma County 2009 would complement the heat and complexity in the dry rub.

Beef Ribs - Greg

Big meaty beef ribs make every barbecue a trip to Bedrock! Grabbing a 12-inch bone with a huge hunk of beautifully smoked meat on it brings out the caveman in me! This classic preparation is most associated with Texas – and the reason for more than one road trip. Chef Tim Love has put together a great recipe that allows you to bring a taste of Texas to your backyard.

With this rich, assertively smoky example of beef ribs I’m thinking of going with a Malbec-based wine, something with a little spice sounds great as long as it has enough acid to refresh the palate and Achaval Ferrer’s Quimera (a blend of Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot) has always been a great partner for this kind of dish!

Beef Ribs - Hana

I’m going to give homage to my heritage here, hop on the popular food bandwagon and go with kalbi (Korean-style beef short ribs), a dish I’ve long associated with picnics, birthdays, holidays – basically any occasion where a large crowd is gathered.

L.A.-style kalbi are usually cut about 1/4” length-wise across the bone (“flanken cut,” versus traditional Korean kalbi, which is cut along the bone using an “English cut”). These flanken or L.A.-style cuts allow for faster marinating, grilling and subsequently, eating. This fantastic recipe by Korean food blogger Maangchi is easy, authentic and is even accompanied by a handy video tutorial.

If you’re enjoying these ribs by themselves, I’d love to try a fun, fruity Aussie Shiraz like Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend 2008, which would go well with the salty soy and sweet Korean pear in the marinade. If eating alongside assertively spicy or pickled Korean food, it might be more challenging.

Lamb Ribs - Greg

Lamb ribs can be a bit of a bother to find and you’ll need a lot to feed a crowd, but they are some of my favorite ribs to prepare. Always rich and flavorful, they grill up quickly and you can get them nicely smoked in a hurry due to their small size. I’ve traditionally treated my lamb ribs in an orange and spice-tinged marinade before grilling them over mesquite; but lamb ribs lend themselves many preparations, in particular those with an Italian or Grecian bent.

Here’s a simple recipe for Tex-Mex roasted lamb ribs that can be easily be adapted for the grill. For a preparation like this, I’m all over a nice Syrah here. Something like the Langmeil Valley Floor from Australia.

Lamb Ribs - Hana

Usually when it comes to lamb, I tend to stick with tried and true Mediterranean herbs and flavors that seem to marry so perfectly with the meat’s earthiness. But I recently tried fantastic lamb pops prepared in an Indian tandoor oven and vowed to change up my lamb routine straightaway.

These Spicy Tandoori ribs would be a fun way to experiment with both Indian food and an under-utilized cut of lamb. Pairing wine with Indian food can also be a challenge, but I think a full-bodied California Zinfandel like a Pezzi King Zinfandel Sonoma 2007 could stand up to the heady, layered spices in this marinade.

1 2 next

Slideshow View

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: madmagnum
    268630 1

    many of the recipe links are not working.

    Jun 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

  • Snooth User: Hana Choi
    Hand of Snooth
    803609 935

    @madmagnum - Hi there! Links should all be working fine now, thanks for the head's up and don't forget to tell us your favorite pairings. :)

    Jun 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM

  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,353

    Nice! A good way to see the different styles that would pair with these dishes. I've really been enjoying Chenin Blanc recently, so love the chicken pairing, and those Beef Ribs are going to go great with the Achaval Ferrer. The only problem is that this is over a month of eating and tasting wine! Too much to try!

    Maybe that's not such a problem...

    Jun 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM

  • I would like to suggest an alternate Chicken recipe.
    Standing or Beer Can Chicken. Can be cooked on gas or charcoal grill using indirect heat.

    Use a whole chicken. Rinse and pat dry.
    Slice a Roma Tomato in 1/4's
    Slice a medium onion in 1/8's
    Slice a whole Jalopeno in 1/4's
    Slice Garlic cloves into slivers (use to taste)

    We generally cook 2 chickens at a time.

    using your finger separate the skin from the chicken breast at the neck. Insert a slice of tomato, onion (as much garlic as your like) and Jalapeno on each side of the breast.

    Make a small incision in the skin near the leg/thigh joint. insert the vegetable slices between the skin and the leg/thigh.

    The remaining onion can be used between the skin on the back or stuffed in the neck after seasoning the chicken.

    Sprinkle Cajun seasoning (Tony C's or Slap yo Mamma) liberally over the outside and inside of the chicken.

    Pour 1/2 a beer in a glass for your personal consumption, pour some seasoning in the can and set the chicken on your beer can throne. Fill the neck cavity with the remaining onion if you like.

    If cooking on a gas grill use the 2 side burners and leave the center unlit. put a water pan to catch the fat. cook for ~ 2 hours at 300-325. Use tongs to lift the chicken when done, be careful pulling the beer can out, discard the remaining beer.

    This is the most moist flavorful chicken you will ever eat. The skin is crisp and spicy and the vegetables not only add flavor but are an added bonus.


    Jun 15, 2011 at 4:48 PM

  • Snooth User: nratt
    678530 69

    Here in North Carolina, barbecue is not a verb. Rather it is slow-cooked pork. If not whole hog, then shoulders, chopped and piled high on a bun, as Hana says. Now whether the best is Eastern North Carolina barbecue or Western North Carolina barbecue, that debate shall rage on here in the Old North State forever more. But if you ask me, both of 'em are pretty dang good. Moreover, I'd put either one of 'em up against any other barbecue in the country. Until you've had North Carolina barbecue, well, you just ain't had real barbecue. And that's a fact!

    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:29 PM

  • We had a Barbie wine once. It was like its namesake - badly balanced and tasted of plastic...

    Jun 16, 2011 at 3:43 AM

  • Snooth User: kmackie
    451384 21

    i would love to see some recommendations for vegetarian grilling options, ex. peppers, eggplant, zucchini, grilling cheese such as halloumi or feta. can y'all recommend something for us vegetarians out there!?

    Jun 16, 2011 at 4:07 AM

  • Snooth User: nalvina
    872145 2

    Yes, yes, I know the Shiraz very well, so let me make a suggestion: when drinking it outdoors with the grill, let it COOL before. The Shiraz itself is pretty spicy, so with a bit of coolness, it marries better with the lamb. Try it.

    Jun 25, 2011 at 11:20 AM

  • Snooth User: homestar
    512161 83

    grilling veggies is easy: brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and try not to over char. Zucchini is great, as are peppers and onion. Grilled eggplant makes baba ganoush.

    Jul 15, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network