Spicy zin begs for comfort foods like Korean-style ribs
Heads up, zin lovers! Our Wine of the Week, Pellegrini 2018 Alexander Valley Carlin Vineyard Zinfandel, $35, will thrill you with its supple, juicy texture; exuberant fruit and threads of spice. Although the wine will age well for a number of years, its tannins are soft and velvety without harshness at the outer edges of your palate.
Recognizable fruit ranges from cranberry and pomegranate to Bing cherry, with black plums and black raspberries making cameo appearances. Sweet spices — especially allspice, clove and star anise — join savory elements, the most pronounced of which is fennel pollen.
You’ll enjoy this wine with all zin-friendly foods, including barbecued chicken, grilled tri-tip, chicken wings in a mildly spicy sauce, creamy polenta with sausages, roasted root vegetables, spaghetti marinara and classic American pizza. A grilled cheese sandwich made with cheddar and a bit of mustard is a great match, too.
Paired with this wine, a sandwich of roasted sweet peppers, mozzarella fresca and soppressata on a toasted sourdough roll drizzled with good olive oil and a slather of black olive tapenade will dazzle you.
For today’s recipe, I’m suggesting a delicious dish that resonates gloriously with this beautiful wine. For the best results, you must get Korean-cut ribs. If you are too busy or disinclined to make it all yourself, Willowside Meats (3421 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa) often has them in a Hawaiian marinade, which is quite similar to this one, though not identical.
Korean-style Barbecued Ribs (Kalbi)
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Korean Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
2 pounds beef ribs, Korean-cut
3 to 4 green onions cut in 2-inch lengths and julienned
Steamed white rice
Make the sauce and set it aside to cool.
Set the ribs on a work surface and season all over with salt. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Put the ribs into a large plastic freezer bag, add two-thirds of the barbecue sauce and seal the bag, pressing out the air as you close it. Massage the bag to thoroughly coat the meat in the sauce.
Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for as long as 8 hours.
To cook, heat a stovetop grill.
Grill the ribs just long enough to thoroughly sear them on both sides, about 90 seconds per side or a bit longer if you prefer medium-rare.
Set the cooked ribs on a platter, slather with the remaining barbecue sauce, scatter the green onions on top and enjoy right away, with rice alongside for sopping up the delicious juices.
Korean Barbecue Sauce
Makes 2 cups
1 cup soy sauce, plus more to taste
½ cup palm sugar or granulated sugar, plus more or less to taste
3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
8 green onions, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Pour the soy sauce into a saucepan, add the sugar, set over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and correct the sweet-salt balance. Stir in the garlic, onions, ginger, sesame oil and sesame seeds; remove from the heat and cool. Use immediately or pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.