BBQ Beyond Beer

Posted on: May 4th, 2020 by

I would never turn down a beer beside my brisket, but there’s a lot to be said for paring wine with your grilled and/or smoked meats. So I was excited to get my copy of of Fire and Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings. Even better, my friends Mary Cressler and Sean Martin wrote the dang thing! I’ve had the chance to hang out with them around the grill, spend time with their two awesome boys, and we’ve been on a few wine trips together.

Fire and Wine: A Cookbook with Vindulgent Recipes

Fire and Wine is a cookbook for wine lovers.One reason I like wine with BBQ is because each beer is like a liquid sandwich. Very filling. Savor beer while grilling, then move into the wine when the eating starts. That’s when the light reds, rosés, and, yes, sparkling wines really shine. Go ahead, add sauces and sides to the mix. You’d be surprised how versatile wine can be.

Fire and Wine has a concise wine section with a nice introduction to Chardonnay, rosé, and bubbly. The meat of the book is about, well, meat and also tips on choosing a grill/smoker, fire-starting/management, and sauces.


There’s also a very Pacific Northwest/Oregon focus on ingredients. Lots of salmon, seafood, and plenty of Pinot Noir. Makes sense, because Sean and Mary lived in Portland for quite a while before settling in the Willamette Valley. Fear not, there’s plenty of beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. But also represented are smoked tofu, swiss chard/hazelnut patties, and pulled mushroom sliders for those who practice meat abstinence. Something for everybody, ok?

Smoked salmon crostini from Fire and Wine.

smoked salmon crostini with capers, dill, and goat cheese / photo by Dina Avila from Fire and Wine

Style-wise it’s like hanging out with Sean and Mary: friendly, welcoming, and generous.

Each recipe does have a wine pairing, but it’s not like “Enjoy with a bottle of 2019 Chateau FancyPants Special Blend. If you can’t find that exact wine, your meal is ruined.” Rather, a grape, style, or region is selected so you can actually find something and not go nuts trying to find a particular bottle. A BBQ cookbook shouldn’t provoke wine stress, right?

WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Hardcover books from WORD bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

I ordered my copy of Fire and Wine from my beloved local bookstore, WORD. It’s a nice ten-minute stroll from my place, and I look forward to being able to walk in to this snug little slice of book heaven when it’s safe to open up shops again. In the meantime, I’ve been ordering from their website and getting books shipped. The above photo is my on-deck circle of reading. I love hardcover books!

American Harvest: God, Country, and Farmland in the Heartland, by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Braised Pork, by An Yu (fiction, BTW)

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, A Memoir, by Daniel R. Day

Now back to BBQ:

Watch Mary and Sean’s Pork Belly Burnt Ends Video

Tell me your favorite wine and BBQ pairings in the comments. Better yet, get a copy of Fire and Wine and tell me what you’d like to match with a recipe from the book.

Go back in the time machine and listen to my podcast with Mary and Sean from 2015 (!).

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2 Responses

  1. Sean Martin says:

    Jameson, Thank you so much for the awesome review. We wish you lived closer!!!! We really appreciate how you captured the essence of what we were trying to do. Approachable read for the novice or expert with a focus on the ingredients and food. Can’t wait to break bread, or beef, and wine with you when all this lets up!!! – Sean

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