5-star chef Larry Vito shares the Sparkling, White, and Red wines that go way beyond ’standing up’ to slow-smoked Southern barbecue... they dance with it!


Wine & BBQ Pairing Tips from the Heart of Wine Country

Aaaah, Sonoma County…

What better place to discover the slightly transgressive pleasure of a fabulous glass of Sonoma County wine paired with luscious, award-winning barbecue than the heart of the wine and food world!

Dear ‘Que Fans,

Until I tried wine with BBQ, I always thought beer was the only dancing partner up to the job. When wineries began asking us to cater their wine club events and employee parties with BBQ, I started taking wine and BBQ pairing seriously.

After a long and arduous task of tracking rumors and sampling, I gathered my final research materials — over 50 bottles — and a few good friends from the wine business. The results of our sampling held a few surprises…

(Scroll down or skip to: Reds & Varietals  Whites & Sparkling  My Sangria recipe)

~ Chef Larry Vito

A glimpse of one of chef Larry Vito's wine and barbecue sampling tables. Many wines were tasted. Only the best are recommended here.

One of chef Larry Vito's wine and barbecue sampling dinners. Many wines were tasted. Only the best are recommended here.

The First Rule of
Wine & Food Pairing

The first rule is important and must never, ever be broken. Commit it to memory and you will always succeed at wine and food pairing. The rule is: There are no rules!

If you like to heat up 25 year old burgundy and dunk marshmallows in it, then go for it. On the other hand, save that bottle of 1995 Chateaux de La Dee Daa for a sedate occasion with subtle foods that allow your wine to shine forth without distractions.

You can easily find happy partners to your BBQ with inexpensive and mid priced wines.

The Second Rule of Wine & Food Pairing: A Tip from M.F.K. Fisher

Philosophically, I think about an old friend’s advice when it comes to food and dining. When I was cutting my culinary teeth in New York City, in the milieu of New York’s finest French restaurants, I was fortunate enough to have learned firsthand about wine and food pairing from the late M.F.K. Fisher. She once advised me to never lose site of the fact that it is the people at the table that matter most, not the food on the table. (Or the wine in the glass, I might add.)

Chef Larry Vito’s Background

The following suggestions (and the philosophy behind it) spring largely from Larry’s work as the owner/chef of The Larry Vito Catering Company. Vito’s original catering business prepared high end French cuisine served at upscale winery weddings.

The Larry Vito Catering Company was well-known for multi-course wine and food pairing dinners for well over a decade when wineries began to engage Vito for their own events, particularly when they wanted to really show off their wines to a group of wine buyers or for a wine club event.

Before Vito embarked on his Sonoma County catering adventure, New York career highlights included sous chef to the legendary Masa Kobayashi at New York’s most celebrated restaurant, Le Plasier; Executive Chef of The Greene Street Cafe and Executive Chef of The Morgon Hotel.

Among the awards Larry and the properties he has represented have received are the Cordon Bleu Certificate from the Society of Bacchus, the Grand Award from the Wine Spectator, the International Wine & Food Society Certificate of Merit, and the Fine Dining Magazine Award of Excellence. Read Vito’s full bio

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