Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pork & Cork

I'm working on some combinations for something called "Wine Blogging Wednesday," coming up in a couple weeks. You can read more about it at the host's site: Wannabe Wino. Basically, a bunch of wine nerds/ blog nerds like myself (some even nerdier than me...those who know me will find that hard to believe) write on their sites about a certain theme. Then, the host compiles all the posts, and everyone is exposed to a bunch of different wines, opinions, new sites to read, etc. You know, yet another one of those good ideas I didn't invent.

Seriously- jerk who invented the motorized riding cooler- that was mine. MINE!!!

So anyway, the theme for this upcoming WBW is "I have Zinned," an homage to America's grape, Zinfandel. Definitely one of my favorites, and one of the easiest wines to drink...despite alcohol levels often exceeding 15% (why so high? read about it here). I especially think a tasty Zinfandel, with all its jammy fruit and peppery spice, goes great with BBQ, particularly if it's slathered in a sweet & spicy sauce. And to all you BBQ snobs, let me clear the air and say sauce does not great BBQ make. But, if it is used, it's often good with Zinfandel. Get off my back, John Q. McPurist.

While not ready to unleash my wine/food pairing for the upcoming event, I thought I'd try some grilled pork and some Zin together to see if I could get the creative juices flowing. Behold!

Let's be honest, if not slightly creepy: those grill marks are damn sexy.

Chops: pretty solid. I brined them overnight in a mixture of apple juice, salt, brown sugar, Crown Royal, onion powder, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, and allspice berries. Then, I dusted the outside with smoked paprika and rubbed down with olive oil. Cooked on a hot grill for about 3 1/2 minutes per side. A little salty- I'll back it off a bit next time- but absolutely THE way to go with normally-bland pork chops. If you only take one thing away from this post....BRINE. BRINE. BRINE. (okay, that's 3 things)

Oh, that's broccoli in the background. Thought I'd try grilling broccoli. If you enjoy aweful, huge-embarrassing-failure-type dishes, then grill your broccoli. Oh well, can't figure out it sucks until you try it.

Now, time for the wine. I thought I'd open a 2006 Kokomo Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I've liked the stuff these guys have made, and owner/winemaker Erik Miller is a pretty nice fella, to boot. Here's the wine:

SUNUVABITCH! The wine was corked. And I don't mean "corked" as in it had a cork in it. No such thing would elicit crude, blue language out of a golden-tongued socialite like me*.

*denotes sarcasm

The term "corked" is something many of you have probably heard. It's the smell of trichloroanisole, more commonly referred to as TCA or "cork taint". Without getting all "Mister Wizard" on you, it's basically a naturally-occuring fungus that can get into cork. When the corks are cleaned with chlorine for sanitation purposes before bottling, the fungus- if present- reacts with the chlorine, forming TCA. It's an incredibly powerful compound, detectable in parts per trillion. If you don't know how much a trillion is, check out our national debt here.

Although harmless, TCA can render your wine worthless. It robs the wine of pleasant aromas, and presents a damp, musty room, wet dog, wet cardboard, etc. Furthermore, it can make the wine incredibly dull tasting. Basically, without sugar-coating it, TCA is a bunch of bullsh*t.

But, hey, it happens. One of the reasons why you're seeing a lot more screw tops on high-quality wine these days. Regardless, I don't think less of the folks at Kokomo, and I certainly don't think less of Zinfandel. I'll just have to crack another bottle and keep trying...

...until then, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!
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