Despite some promotional silliness about real men religiously tending red meat on a fire and drinking red wine instead of beer while they do it, the 2012 Rib Shack Red from South Africa's Douglas Green Wines ($10 or less at supermarkets) is, in fact, a very tasty and well conceived companion to barbecue.
We sampled this appropriately smoky blend of pinotage (a cross between pinot noir and cinsaut that is South Africa's signature grape) and shiraz with a rack of ribs from Champions BBQ in St. Petersburg and were wowed by both the barbecue and the wine.
The pinotage leads on both the nose and the tongue with its lovely scent of wood smoke and earthy spices. The dominant fruit on the nose is ripe cherry, which is joined on the tongue by a medley of dark stone fruits, especially plum, plus a bit of fig and a touch of anise. The finish is short but clean and resonant. All of these combine to produce a wine that harmonizes to perfection with smoky-good barbecue, from ribs to pulled pork to brisket to links. It also would be great with a fat fire-grilled cheeseburger.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.