Spicy syrah complements spice-laden ribs
If you are looking for a complex red wine, with plenty of fruit, layers of spice and a lingering finish, Keller Estate 2016 Rotie Petaluma Syrah ($58) may be just the thing. It is a bold wine, with dark fruit — black plums, blackberries and black currants. Weaving between the fruit places, spicy notes — anise, allspice and hints of clove — mingle with cocoa, milk chocolate, tobacco and a cooling blush of fresh spearmint.
These flavors come together in a beautifully balanced and highly drinkable wine that weighs in at 14.3% alcohol.
The wine is lush and rich on the palate, qualities that will help create the best pairings, if you pay attention to them. The very best matches are slow-cooked meats, such as braised shanks (goat, lamb, or beef), short ribs, and oxtail. Beef tongue simmered in a broth with spices and finished with Dijon mustard is an unusual and unusually appealing partner. Goat or lamb ragu with bucatini makes the wine soar.
Pairing will be a bit trickier for vegetarians, but I suggest red wine risotto with either Fontina or Gruyére cheese and roasted root vegetables finished in a slow-cooked tomato sauce and served over creamy polenta or farro. Roasted sweet peppers, cut into julienne and tossed with garlic, oregano and a little olive oil make a good match, too, especially for vegans.
For today’s recipe, I’ve taken inspiration from the wine’s spicy profile. Adding coffee and molasses to the array of spices deepens the match and mirrors the wine’s complexity in a beautiful way. I recommend serving wilted spinach or sautéed chard and roasted potatoes as side dishes.
Spiced Spareribs in Coffee & Molasses
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 slabs St. Louis style spareribs
6 garlic cloves, cut in half crosswise
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish
1 teaspoons smoked paprika, preferably Spanish
1 teaspoon allspice berries, toasted and crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
2 star anise, toasted and crushed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup very strong coffee
1 large red onion, cut into small dice
2 large shallots, cut into small dice
½ cup molasses
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
— Tabasco sauce, to taste
The night before cooking the spareribs, set them on a clean work surface. Rub the ribs all over with the cut side of the garlic cloves, pressing the garlic into the surface.
Combine the salt, paprikas, allspice, coriander, anise and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and rub over the ribs. Set on a baking sheet, cover lightly, and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare the marinade the night before, as well. Put the coffee, onion, shallots, molasses, vinegar, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce into a small saucepan set over low heat and stir until the molasses and mustard are incorporated into the other ingredients. Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce but not too much, as it will overwhelm the wine. Cool and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
To cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the ribs from the refrigerator; let them warm to room temperature. Warm the marinade in a saucepan.
Set the ribs, fat side up, on a rack set over a roasting pan. Brush the ribs liberally with the marinade. Cook until the meat pulls away from the bone, 2½ hours. Brush the ribs with the marinade every 15 minutes or so.
Remove the ribs from the oven and cover lightly with foil and let rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Set the remaining marinade over medium heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about a third.
Cut the slabs into sections and enjoy right away, with the remaining marinade alongside.