BBQ Ribs with Wine

"Hello, grandpa?  How are you?"  I recently asked on a phone call placed to my grandpa.  He replies, "What do you mean how am I?  I'm in here hiding from all the pussy's out in the neighborhood trying to get me!  They're all screaming, hello William, will you come out and play?"  I die laughing!  This is my grandpa William Ray Rich.  At the age of 16 he ran away from Illinois to Kingman, Arizona and enlisted himself in the Army using a forged birth certificate.  Times were hard in Illinois and with no money and no job, he felt the service was his only option.  He was immediately deployed to Japan and then one year later sent to the front lines of what would be the beginning of the Korean war.  He spent several months with his platoon engaging in firefights until one dreaded afternoon when they were ambushed.  Half the platoon was immediately killed and my grandfather had been shot 7 times.  Almost all the shots hit his left arm and one lodged under his collar bone near his heart.  He waited hours pretending to be dead before help arrived.  Frightened and barely alive, they flew him to Tokyo where he underwent 8 operations on his arm and chest to try to stop the bleeding.  He not only lost his left arm, but also lost 32 pints of blood and almost bled to death.  After another year and a half and 10 operations later, he finally made his way back to Kingman, Arizona where he eventually met my grandmother.  To say my grandfather is a fighter is an understatement.  Feeling worthless and depressed he begged the Dean at Arizona State for enrollment into college even though he only had one semester of high school.  He would never be able to take care of his family through physical labor and without an education he felt hopeless.  The Dean agreed to let him take entrance exams and upon passing them he made his way into the university.  He graduated Delta Sigma Phi with an incredible GPA and went on to become a semi-pro handicap golfer with one arm, winning the world championship 3 times.  It gives me great pride to know that this man's blood is running through my veins.  The road ahead has not been easy.  He suffers from Phantom Lymph Pain in a hand that doesn't exist and the nightmare's from that frightful day never seem to go away.  I owe my life to grandfather, for if he had laid down and died, I would not exist today.  He's a hero as so many Veterans are and as we celebrate this weekend with BBQ's and shopping trips to the mall,  let us not forget the men who have made incredible sacrifices for our freedom.  Cheers to my grandfather, I love you!
Ribs are a staple at any Memorial weekend BBQ so why not pair them with the perfect glass of wine.  2010 Ameztoi Rubentis Sparkling Rose from Spain pairs incredibly with this finger licking good food.  The wine is a blend of Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza, two indigenous grape varietals from Spain.  Good luck pronouncing that!  The wine has aromas of red berries, rose petals and cinnamon with a chalky minerality.  On the palate the red fruits shine through again although this time there is a signature dried meatiness, almost like beef jerky.  Everything comes together with an incredible lime like acidity and excellent finish.  Rose is delicious with BBQ and after trying a bite of the ribs with a sip of the wine, I'm even more convinced.  Neither the wine nor the food competes with each other.  The flavor from both reveal themselves in steps, first you taste the meat, then you taste the red fruits in the wine and then they sort of form a union.  The saltiness of the meat works with the acidity in the wine.  The wine also has a natural spritz to it helping to cleanse the palate in-between bites.  Other wines to try with BBQ ribs are Zinfandel, Shiraz, Barbera, Valpolicella, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, red wines from the Rhone, Pinot Noir, Malbec and white Zinfandel. Cheers!

Pigs in a blanket with Wine

I grew up taking a bath before bed every night.  After hours spent swimming in my grandmother's pool, a bath was always in order.  My cousins and I would come running in the house soaking wet, leaving small footprints on my grandmother's carpet.  She warned us to dry off before heading inside but we couldn't wait to get in the warm bathtub that awaited us.  Myself and my cousin Jason and Christina would pile in the tub and grab our barbies and soldiers to extend our playtime.  We were only 4, 5, and 6 and loved spending every moment together.  The day came when my grandmother told us Jason was not allowed to take a bath with us anymore.  My grandmother explained that he was getting too old to take a bath with girls and would need to shower separately.  I could see the look of heartbreak in his eyes from being too young to understand why he was different.  As we all turned slightly older we started to realize what made him so unique.  He had boy parts; a weenie is what we called it.  On random nights my grandmother would let us skinny dip with the lights off before bath-time.  Christina and I would scream, "Hide your weenie!" as we covered our private parts and jumped in the pool.  We'd giggle as we tried to hide our tiny bodies against the inside rim of the pool even though it was practically pitch black outside.  My grandmother would bring towels to the edge of the steps and one by one we'd hop out as fast as we could so that the other couldn't catch a glimpse of each other.  That was my first experience of what made boys and girls so different and forever filed away the word "weenie" in my mind:-)

The name alone sparks interest in trying this tasty little snack.  Pigs in a blanket consists of tiny baked hot dogs or sausages wrapped in dough and served with a side of mustard.  There are other versions of this snack such as IHOP's sausage links wrapped with pancakes.  They're easy to make since they typically come frozen and are perfect as an appetizer at parties or get-togethers.  I particularly like serving these at a gathering because they pair with one of the of my favorite wines on the planet, dry sparkling Rose.  Plus, most ladies love anything pink.  Bouvet, a sparkling Cab Franc from the Loire Valley of France is always my first choice.  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine I immediately sense the sweetness of the dough and notice the flavor of the meat is heightened.  The fruitiness of the wine helps to tame the spiciness of the mustard and the bubbles help to wash the array of flavors and flakiness of the dough off the palate.  The wine is refreshing and can't help but make you want to add 3 or 4 more to your plate.  Other wines to try with pigs in a blanket are Champagne, dry rose, white Zinfandel, Kabinett or Alsatian Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Beaujolais, Barbera, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, and a fruity young red Zinfandel. Cheers!