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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Wine from North Carolina? You Betcha! A Hand-Carried Bottle and Some North Carolina Eats #WinePW

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

This month, the Wine Pairing Weekend group is going fast and loose theme of 'taking us to school.' I am hosting and told the writers to pick something they want to learn, something they want to teach, or a book about wine and share it with us. I mean, there is so much to discuss about wine and food pairings, this will be fun.

Here's the line-up of articles by the #WinePW crew...

'Wine from North Carolina?!?'

That is the response that I have gotten from everyone who heard that I was uncorking a bottle of wine from North Carolina. That question is usually followed by the statement, "I didn't know they made wine in North Carolina." In fact, when my friend handed me the bottle, I refrained from saying exactly that. Because I remember reading - once - that wine is produced in all fifty states.

A Hand-Carried Bottle

So, this bottle landed in my house when friends came to visit. Julie hand-carried the wine from her recent trip to North Carolina. They were staying with my mom, but I was the cook and spent as much time as I could with them when I wasn't at the office. While I am grateful for the wine, I was so thrilled to spend time with the Carlo gals and my mom. I hadn't seen Caiti for nearly a decade and Julie since my wedding twenty-three years ago!

The wine Julie hand-carried for me was a 259 Bourbon Barrel Red from Shelton Vineyards. Located in Dobson, North Carolina, the Shelton estate is comprised of over 400 acres in the Yadkin Valley. Charlie and Ed Shelton purchased the property in 1994 and asked for Yadkin Valley to be designated as a AVA in 2002. It was approved!

The wine is a blend of Tannat, Merlot, and Petit Verdot that are all placed in bourbon barrels to age. After 10 months in barrel, they are blended to create this wine. It pours an inky burgundy with a lighter garnet rim. On the nose, fruits abound. I noted cherries and plums. On the palate, red fruit flavors mirror the aromas and there are added layers of dates and maple syrup. The wine is velvety smooth and complex with a lengthy finish.

I actually stretched this wine out through three different pairings and tried my hand at some recipes with North Carolina ties.

Some North Carolina Eats

I poured this with Shrimp and Grits, Roasted Okra (recipe below), Mac'N'Cheese, Crabcakes, and Ribs with Cheerwine BBQ Sauce (recipe below). I'll be sharing recipes here and in subsequent posts. Stay tuned.

Roasted Okra

Okra is one of those polarizing vegetables, but it's a favorite in our house. I usually pickle them, but it takes two days. This preparation is simple and delicious!

  • 1 pound okra, rinsed and dried

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon crushed, minced garlic

  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trim the okra, cutting away the stem ends and slicing the okra in half, lengthwise. Place okra in a large mixing bowl. Add in oil, seasoning, and garlic. Toss to coat the okra, then place the okra in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Place sheet in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking or stirring the okra at least twice during the roasting time. The okra is ready when it's tender and has bits of crisped edges.

Oven-Roasted Ribs with Cheerwine BBQ Sauce

This is a process that I vary depending on what spices I have. And the sauce is a riff on a Coca-Cola sauce I made years ago. I had never heard of Cheerwine, but tracked down a four pack of this cherry-flavored soft drink by Carolina Beverage Corporation of Salisbury, North Carolina. It has been produced since 1917 and claims to be 'the oldest continuing soft drink company still operated by the same family.'

Cheerwine BBQ Sauce

  • One 12-ounce bottle of Cheerwine

  • 2 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 - 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Bottle in a mason jar.

Oven-Roasted Ribs

  • 1 rack of pork baby back ribs

  • Also needed: foil, baking sheet, barbecue sauce

Spice Rub

  • 1 cup organic dark brown sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons Cajun seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

The night before, or first thing in the morning, prepare the rub. Combine all ingredients, and mix thoroughly until well blended. Coat the ribs. With your hands, pat the rub onto both sides of the ribs, going heavier on the meaty side. Refrigerate for as many hours as you can; I ended up leaving them for 8 hours.

Right before you want to cook them, preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats, take the ribs out of the refrigerator to warm up.

To roast, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and place them - meat side up - on a sheet pan and put them in the preheated oven. Set the timer for 3 hours.

Reduce the heat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for another 2 to 3 hours. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will be.

Gently unwrap the ribs and paint them with a thin coat of barbecue sauce. Return them to the oven - raise the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit - for 10 minutes or so. The sauce will begin to char.

Remove the ribs from the oven, place them on a cutting board, and chop them into individual servings (the meat should almost be falling off the bone at this point, so this will be easy). Serve with more barbecue sauce and loads of napkins because eating ribs is a messy endeavor. Enjoy!

I'll be sharing the other North Carolina-inspired dishes soon.

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