Celebrating Women in Wine: BBQ, Pairings, and a Conversation with Chef Erin Smith

To help celebrate National Women’s History Month (and the impending summer weather!) we reached out to Executive Chef and Owner Erin Smith of Feges BBQ in Houston, Texas to help put together a killer combo of BBQ pairings with Ribera y Rueda wines – all made by female winemakers! We also discussed what makes Ribera y Rueda wines so unique, and how the flavor profiles of these dynamic regions impact how they are paired.

Why wine + BBQ, you ask? Chef Erin shares, “I’ve long stated that BBQ and winemaking have a lot in common. It is nearly impossible to create a recipe for smoked meats because so much of the success of the meat comes from touch, feel and intuition, things you can only learn after months (even years) of working with a particular smoker and handling a particular meat. It would be like trying to provide a recipe for making wine.”

When asked what sets RyR apart from other wines regions, Chef Erin explains, “The wines of Ribera del Duero and Rueda are very approachable and food friendly. I’ve always had an interest in getting our patrons to try something new without scaring them off and these wines give me the perfect opportunity to do that. Very few varietals can survive, let alone thrive, in the intense annual weather shifts from blazing hot summers to frigid winters of the region. It’s a parallel I feel is relatable to a pitmasters relationship with weather. What the Tempranillo grape experiences in this region is symbolic of the perseverance and tenacity of the pitmaster.”

What would Chef Erin pair with RyR wines? She finds that “fatty cuts of meat cooked at a low temperature with delicate smoke pair beautifully with the traditional wines of Ribera del Duero. While Rueda cuts through spiced sides and vegetables wonderfully.” Lucky for us, Chef Erin shared two of her favorite RyR pairings:

Beef Belly Burnt Ends + Valduero Tinto Fino Crianza:

It’s no secret that Ribera del Duero creates wines that are perfect for pairing with meats but what I love about the pairing is the restraint I get from the Crianza that allows the subtle smoke of the beef belly burnt ends to shine. The structure and complexity of the wine cuts beautifully through the rich, fatty smoked meat leaving the enjoyer simultaneously oblivious and intrigued by the perfect union.

“Verdejo from the Rueda region, particularly Bodegas Naia 2018 pairs remarkably well with our Moroccan Spiced Carrots which are slow roasted to bring out their natural sweetness. They are them tossed in a glaze seasoned with cumin, coriander, harissa and other native spiced which give the carrots a rich flavor – begging for a crisp, vibrant wine to accompany it.”

We hope Chef Erin’s culinary insights inspire you to be bold with your pairings and realize that Ribera y Rueda can work beautifully with any dish you’re serving! For more culinary inspiration to pair with your RyR wines, visit our recipe page. To keep up with Chef Erin and Feges BBQ, follow them on Instagram at @FegesBBQ.

Sign Up for Newsletter for Exclusive Events, Promotions & Contests