Table Settings

Slow and Low with Orange Wine

Orange wine is produced using a white varietal and left in contact with skins for a period of time

By Raymond Dickinson
Photo by Raymond Dickinson

Growing up in Kansas, I was spoiled by great BBQ. I didn’t realize how special it really was until after I moved from the area in my early 20s. Small mom-and-pop BBQ stands were common. Many of them were nothing more than an aluminum shed, a sliding-glass window in front for ordering and one for picking up. Smokers would be in the back, going since the wee hours of the morning. The images and tastes are seared into my brain. They are among the major influences in my life that helped steer me into a career of wine, food and nourishment from the kitchen: food and beverage that makes you feel good and touches your soul. 

I find myself constantly thinking about cooking, and what to pair with food. Sometimes this can lead to overthinking. Keeping it simple is typically the best solution, and one thing that I can say about my many trials of cooking BBQ. Use good ingredients, don’t overthink it and don’t be in a rush. Good BBQ takes time, and great BBQ takes a combination of patience, love and intent. 

This last weekend I found myself cooking on the smoker. I had bought a couple racks of pork spare ribs, and I used a dry rub of kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, dry mustard and brown sugar. I wrapped them and let them hang out in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then my formula was: keep the smoker at 225, throw the ribs on and wait. It’s important to have a beverage set aside for the waiting process. Use this time for putting together side dishes, mowing the lawn, walking the dog or doing whatever other activity while the magic happens. 

Many times my beverage of choice while cooking BBQ is a crisp IPA or Hazy IPA. There are so many options in this category lately, and I’m pretty sure this past winter I sampled all of them. It’s funny how changes in your surroundings will get you to change up your pattern or routine. This spring I found myself doing a hard reset on a personal level. We are always looking for fun things to stock in the cooler for wine selections. Lately our wine cold box has been dominated by Pet Nat and natural wines.

This weekend I brought home a bottle of wine that was new to Brix. It is produced by Valentina Passalacqua out of Puglia, Italy. It is an orange wine, meaning it is produced using a white varietal and left in contact with skins for a period of time. It is produced using 100% Falanghina, which is an old Italian varietal. It is left in contact with the skins for five days, giving it a very nice tannic quality. The grapes are grown in limestone. It is produced to an alcohol level of 11% and bottled in a 1 LT. Pure magic! I cannot understate the deliciousness of this wine. It was perfect to sit on the deck with, sip and wait. 

Once the ribs came off the smoker and were ready to eat, I was rewarded greatly with this combination of falling-off-the-bone, rich, smoky goodness and this gem of a wine. The wine was simple, crisp, light, refreshing and worked perfectly with the fatty goodness from the ribs. Combinations of fat and acid can be amazing, and this was spot on. Simplicity between the ribs and wine, patience and intent, resulted in magic. Slow and low, that is the tempo.

Raymond Dickinson is the owner of Brix Bottleshop, a certified sommelier and a wine educator with decades of experience in the food and beverage industry. Brix Bottleshop, located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Kalispell, can be found online at www.brixbottleshop.com.