Pairings: Grilled chicken with Mendocino zinfandel

The Edmeades zin can take a bit of heat, but overdoing the hot sauce will overpower its silky smooth flavor.|

Texture is the stand-out quality of our Wine of the Week, Edmeades 2013 Mendocino County Zinfandel. It spreads across the palate like silk velvet, all lush and smooth. Tannic roughness doesn't show up until the wine teases the sides of your tongue, by which time you are paying attention to other attributes that range from black pepper, cedar and Bing cherry to licorice root, allspice and black topsoil. The wine is fully savory, without the suggestion of sweetness that some bone-dry zinfandels show.

At the table, the wine is easier to pair than wines with rougher tannins. When tomato season kicks in, they'll make great companions, especially in such dishes as bread salad, bread soup, pizza, tomato pie and pasta with fresh tomato-butter sauce. You'll enjoy it with classic pairings such as ribs, traditional ragu, meatloaf, burgers, ratatouille and macaroni and cheese made with Cheddar.

Most smoked meats will be good matches, too, and shrimp etouffée will be flattered with this wine alongside. Enjoy it, as well, with pulled pork sandwiches and salmon, chicken or beef Teriyaki. It is even good with a BLT, especially if the bacon is fried all the way crisp and the bread is a sturdy dark hearth bread.

Today's inspiration comes from what has become a classic Texas recipe, Lady Bird Johnson's Texas Barbecue Sauce, which can be used on any grilled or smoked meats. It is excellent with grilled chicken thigh or leg-thigh.

The wine can take a bit of heat, but don't overdo it on the hot sauce or the sauce will overpower the wine. Serve with beans (cannellini are perfect) and either potato salad or bread salad, and you'll have a late spring feast.

Grilled Chicken with Buttery Barbecue Sauce

Serves 4

4 ounces (1 stick, ½ cup) butter

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar

¼ cup freshly-squeeze lemon juice

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup ketchup

- Kosher salt

- Black pepper in a mill

- Tabasco Sauce or Crystal Hot Sauce

4 pastured chicken leg-thigh pieces or 8 chicken thighs

Start a fire in an outdoor grill or preheat a stove-top grill.

Put the butter in a small saucepan, set over low heat and, when it is fully melted, add the garlic and let simmer very gently for about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the vinegar, lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce and ketchup into a small bowl. Stir and season with salt and several turns of black pepper.

Pour the mixture into the butter and garlic, stir and taste. Correct for salt if needed and add a few shakes of hot sauce. Set aside and keep warm.

Set the chicken on a clean work surface and season all over with salt and pepper.

Set the chicken on the grill, skin side up, and cook for about 20 minutes; do not let it burn.

Turn the chicken over and cook for 3 minutes.

Rotate it 90 degrees and cook until done, about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces and their distance from the heat.

During the final few minutes of cooking, brush with sauce one more time.

Turn back to skin side up and slather with sauce. Transfer to a serving platter and brush with sauce one more time.

Enjoy right away, with more barbecue sauce alongside.

Leftover sauce will keep for several days if covered and refrigerated.

Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook's” series. Email her at and visit her blog at

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