Rubs, Marinades and Sauces

Whether grilled, broiled, sautéed or roasted, meat is so much tastier when you doctor it with a rub, marinade or sauce. Making your own is easier than you might think, plus it’s a way to control the amount of salt that goes into your food. And you get to use all those herbs and spices in your cupboard before their expiration date!

Gary: To select a wine to accompany meat that’s been flavored with a rub, marinade or sauce, consider the flavors of the meat and what the condiment adds. A marinade can be somewhat subtle and impact the wine choice less than a spicy rub, and sauces usually add a prominent flavor element. Just remember that sweet sauces call for wines with some sweetness or, for reds, wines that have more fruit and less firm tannins.

Ragin’ Cajun Rub

1 TBS black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients in a food storage bag. Add pork tenderloin, pork chops or chicken fillets and give the bag a few shakes until meat is covered with the rub. Roast meat until nearly done, then finish on the grill.

Gary: With the choice of meats, their preparation and the subtlety of this rub, a rich white or a soft red would be appropriate. Try a round and ripe Chardonnay with moderate oak, a Viognier with some malolactic (buttery or dairy) texture or a white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon with oak and lees contact). For a red, look for a southern Rhône based on Grenache, a fruity Beaujolais, a mellow Merlot, or a Spanish Rioja.

Jamaican Jerk Rub

Jamaican Jerk chicken is hot and spicy. Serve with slices of cantaloupe or a cucumber salad to cool the heat. This is also good on chicken wings.

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix ingredients in a food storage bag. Add bone-in chicken pieces and give the bag a few shakes until chicken is covered with rub. Roast chicken pieces until nearly done, then finish on the grill.

Gary: Chicken is quite versatile, though the sauce might present some wine challenges due to the heat in the pepper flakes. White wines with low alcohol and a hint of sweetness are a very pleasant pairing. This is where a softly sweet German Riesling would excel, as would a delicately sweet Prosecco (still or sparkling) and some of the white blends with subtle sweetness that California is releasing. For a red, a German Dornfelder, Chinon/Cabernet Franc from a cool climate or a Barbera from northern Italy would fill the bill, and Sangria would be a cool summertime treat.

Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce

This is a quick and easy no-cook lemon butter sauce that is delicious on fish, shrimp or scallops.

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

Add garlic and salt to food processor. Pulse until garlic is minced. Add lemon juice. With motor running, slowly add melted butter. Serve over grilled salmon, shrimp or scallops. Also delicious over steamed vegetables.

Gary: This sauce enhances lighter white meat courses. Look for a crisp white wine with bright flavors and good acidity to cut the richness of the butter and to stand up to the lemon juice and garlic. A dry Riesling, dry Vouvray, Albariño or Sauvignon Blanc would all be quite lovely. You might also try some of the more unique grapes/wines that fit this category, such as Aligoté or Pinot Blanc.

Pesto Cream Sauce

Rich and creamy, this sauce is fabulous tossed with grilled chicken and sautéed mushrooms and served over spaghetti. I use about half of the pesto in the cream sauce. Add as much or as little as you’d like and freeze the rest.

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 TBS pine nuts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 lb cooked spaghetti

Additional Parmigiana Reggiano cheese

Add garlic and pine nuts to food processor. Pulse until minced. Add oil. Pulse a few times. Add basil, cheese and salt. Process until minced.

In a saucepan, heat cream. Add as much pesto as you’d like and heat through. Toss with sliced chicken, mushrooms and pasta. Top with additional cheese.

Gary: Pesto is marvelous with crisp Italian white wines and especially aromatic examples. Pinot Grigio, Gavi and Arneis would all work, as would Sauvignon Blanc or Gewürztraminer. Red wines with light tannins and prominent acidity, such as Chianti or Barbera would be delightful.


Buttermilk Marinated Chicken

Buttermilk works magic on chicken, making it moist and flavorful.

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBS paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Bone-in chicken pieces

In a medium bowl, mix buttermilk, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken pieces. Marinate in refrigerator overnight. Remove chicken from marinade. Roast in oven until nearly done. Finish on grill.

Gary: This dish could be paired with any white, Rosé or red wine you might prefer. Try a crisp Verdejo, a round and complex Chardonnay, a softly dry 2015 Rosé, a complex Pinot Noir or a rich and structured Malbec for a lovely match.

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