Out of the Ashes

A winemaker turns disaster into a delicious barbecue sauce

from Tasting Table Everywhere, May 22, 2009

In October 2005, an arsonist set fire to a wine warehouse in Vallejo, California, ruining $100 million worth of wine from 92 wineries. Most winemakers left their bottles to the bulldozer; Julie Johnson just couldn’t let go.

So Johnson, the owner of Tres Sabores, an organic winery in nearby Rutherford, threw on a Tyvek suit and gloves and rescued all the wine she could. Her wines were “cooked,” as they say (though quite literally this time), and undrinkable, but she took about 5,000 bottles home to see if she could do anything with their contents.

She boiled down some Zinfandel and added produce from her farm. A few trials later, she emerged with a sauce, ¿Porqué No? Fire-Roasted Zinfandel Marinade and Grilling Glaze.

Named after one of her perished wines, ¿Porqué No? has the berry aroma and smoky pepper of the Zin, complemented with pureed persimmon and pomegranate and a spicy dose of serrano chile. Johnson left sugar and tomato out of her recipe, so the flavor is tangy and complex–and not at all cloying.

As its name suggests, the sauce has multiple uses: Johnson likes to marinate pork or chicken in the mixture, then brush it on again as the meat grills. Or you can try it in her homespun recipe, a lusty, blue-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped burger (click here to download).

¿Porque No? Marinade and Glaze ($14 for 500 ml) is available at tressabores.com

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1 comment so far

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