I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Wine

IMG_1449A couple of months ago, my wine club and I enjoyed a BEST BBQ WINES food pairing dinner at the Oakwood Smokehouse and Grill in Lady Lake. It was a blind-tasting dinner (all the bottles were concealed to hide their labels). The object of the evening was to figure out which wines paired best with BBQ pork ribs.

Four wines were poured and one of the favorites surprised everyone.

But first, a little background: Years ago, my mom and step-father, Ken, brought me to a little restaurant by their home near Atlanta. It was there that I first tried the amazing recipe of BBQ pork ribs prepared with a blueberry glaze.

DSC_6644Bottle-and-Glass-300pxYes, I poured the usual suspects. The Shannon Ridge Two Bud Block Zinfandel from California took first place (the wine I’m holding in the picture above). But the second-place wine was a wine from Florida! Yes, it was an off-dry blueberry wine from a family-owned producer just outside of The Villages, Whispering Oaks Winery.

Now, full disclosure here. I liked the wine so much that I am now a sales rep for this winery! But I wasn’t a rep when I poured the wine for my wine club. Remember, I used to work for ABC as a wine consultant. I had seen blueberry wines on the shelves. But then I tasted Whispering Oaks in a Fresh Market. I thought it had excellent balance of fruit, crisp acidity, and body. I bought two bottles on the spot and laid down my evil plans for the blind tasting.

Nobody – and I mean nobody – even guessed this wine was made from blueberries. Some wines, like Merlot, can take on “blue” fruit flavors. So a couple of people guessed Merlot. But everyone was blown away when I pulled the black velvet bottle bag off the Whispering Oaks bottle.

Moral of the story: Use your entire life as a database for creating wine-and-food pairing adventures. If you know that a flavor aspect of a food can be found in the wine, that’s a great clue for a potential match. Oh, and be open to new adventures. Not just on in your pairing pursuits, but in life!

Pair happy!



The SWIRLosopher is Sean Trapani, a professor emeritus of advertising who - despite a degree in philosophy - has abandoned all reason and is trying to make a living in the wine business.

Ape Artwork (c) 2014 Walter Moore, used with permission.