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A Special Oregon Pinot Noir with Eastern North Carolina Inspired Ribs #OTBN #winePW 10


Open That Bottle Night - A great excuse for a Wine Pairing Weekend. 

February 28th was Open That Bottle Night - I selected a bottle of wine I helped blend using barrel samples of Pinot Noir from R. Stuart winery in McMinville, Oregon. I was saving this bottle for a special occasion and knew it was likely time to open and drink. I hoped it had improved.

"Blending wine is no task for mere mortals." 
- William Pollard Jr. 

Our Wine Pairing Weekend group decided Open That Bottle Night would be an appropriate occasion to pair our selected bottle of wine with something special as well. After some consideration, I decided North Carolina ribs would likely pair well with my special bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. For this post I'll review the wine first, then provide the recipe, and wrap up with the results of this wine + food pairing.

*Note: What is Open That Bottle Night?
Wife and Husband columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher invented Open That Bottle Night, the world-wide celebration of friends, family and memories during which all of us finally drink that wine that is otherwise simply too special to open.


Wine: R. Stuart & Co. 
Bloggers Blend #4 Oregon Pinot Noir Reverence 2011

Two years ago I had my first taste of this limited bottling of R. Stuart Pinot Noir Bloggers Blend No.4 it was Bottle #8 of 12. As I recall, it was thin and acidic. Would two years of additional aging help? I was eager to find out.
"R. Stuart assistant winemaker described our bloggers blend as "fluid" which I believe is accurate. I would add that it was acid driven. The fruit was overwhelmed. It remained this way days 1-3. On day 4 it was really wonderful, not overly acidic and some pleasant cherry. I think this wine would benefit from 1-2 years in bottle. Graciously, R. Stuart & Co. gave me an extra bottle - which I will save for another year to open and evaluate. Blending wine is no task for mere mortals." - William Pollard Jr. April 2013.


Tasting Notes R.Stuart Bloggers Blend No.4 Bottle #1 of 12

Color: Pale strawberry skin.
Nose: Pretty strawberry, delicate dusty spice, hint of orange marmalade. Smokiness.
Palate: Classic Oregon Pinot Noir. Delicate, strawberry, light spice, orange, fine tannin with matched acidity, dry strawberry and white pepper on the bright finish. Balanced at open and quite tasty.

After 40 minutes: Super smooth, nice spike of acid mid-palate, strawberry skin, orange peel, sandal wood, dry, tart finish. Wants food. Lovely.

Bloggers Blend No.4
Thoughts: Time has benefited this wine. My speed. A pat on the back to my group of wine bloggers and wine blenders: Bill & Rene Eyer, Terry & Kathy Sullivan. We did well with our blend after all, it only needed two more years in bottle. Sincere thank you to Rob and Maria Stuart for their kindness and generosity.

*note: Our Bloggers Blend #4 we named "Reverence" in recognition of the reverence Oregon winemakers and grape growers show for the vineyard and each other. Our blend 100% Oregon Pinot Noir, blended on August 19th 2012, of 60% Weber, 30% Daffodil Hill, 5% Courting Hill and 5% Hirschy vineyards. It was a rewarding experience.

Closure: Glass Cork
Produced and bottled by: R. Stuart & Co.
Winemaker: Rob Stuart, since 2002, winery total annual production approx. 16,000 cases

Blending requires precision, detailed notes and much consideration #winelover

(L to R) Terry and Kathy Sullivan, Maria Stuart, Rene and Bill Eyer, Me.

R. Stuart & Co.
528 NE Third St.
McMinnville, Oregon
Phone: 866.472.8614
The Winery is located in a converted Granary in downtown McMinnville, Oregon
The Wine Bar, is also in downtown McMinnville

*note: For a good read on our wine tasting and blending experience at R.Stuart & Co., read the article by the Wandering Wino: R. Stuart Bloggers Blend Pinot Noir.


Pork Loin Back Ribs with Eastern North Carolina Slaw

After I decided to pair my Oregon Pinot Noir with ribs, I knew I wanted to use a recipe from the book: Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.

In 2013 I was in Raleigh, North Caroline for Spring Media Day at the Nomacorc production facility. Of the many takeaways from that visit, I learned how seriously they regard barbecue in North Carolina, east vs. west, vinegar or ketchup, tradition vs. innovation. I went east, with a vinegar sauce based on tradition. Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of barbecue. It is also packed full of wonderful recipes and includes instructions for constructing your own backyard barbecue pit. Love this book.

The Pit - Authentic Barbecue, Raleigh, NC.

Naturally, I had to make some substitutions and changes to the recipe. No surprise. The recipe called for cider vinegar, which I did not have, I substituted 1/2 Rice Wine vinegar and 1/2 Apple Cider juice. Also, I was short on time and could not let the ribs marinate for the required 4-8 hours. So I decided to reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and cook it longer than the original recipe I used. Not a fancy or complicated recipe. Results were rewarding.

Raw Pork Loin Back Ribs.

4 Lbs. Pork Loin Back Ribs (3.76 Lbs. actual)

For the Marinade
1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Apple Cider
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp. Salt
2 Tablespoons Diced Garlic
3 dashes Black Pepper

For the reduction sauce
1 tsp. Brown Sugar


1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Make the marinade by mixing ingredients in a bowl. You can make this in advance and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours.

Marinade applied to the ribs.

3. Place Pork Loin Back Ribs, rib side up, in a pan, coat with marinade. Ideally let marinate for 4 to 8 hours. Which I did not have time to do.

*note: Cut of pork ribs matters. I have also tried a "St. Louis style rib" which did not cook up as well, did not have any pan drippings, and had a lot of cartilage. I prefer the Pork Loin Back Ribs.

4. Loosely cover pan with foil. Place in pre-heated oven for 90 minutes.

Baste ribs after 90 minutes.

5. Remove ribs from oven and flip the ribs over, to rib side down. Brush liquid in pan over the top and sides of the Pork Loin Ribs. Cover with foil. Return to oven for 60 minutes.

Baste ribs again.

6. Remove ribs from the oven and flip over again, ribs side up. Brush liquid in pan over the top and sides of the ribs. Cover with foil. Return to the oven for 60 minutes.

Cooked ribs ready for broiler - flipped and grilled other side.

7. Remove pan from oven (save pan drippings) and place the cooked ribs on a foil covered cookie sheet. They were tender and fell apart in three pieces. Place ribs under broiler for 6 minutes rib side up (bottom side). Remove from oven and cover bottom broiled ribs with foil.

Pan drippings.

Strain drippings for making sauce.

8. Strain liquid from the pan the ribs were baked in, ADD 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar to the liquid and reduce by about half.

*note: If you don't have a lot of liquid from the pan drippings, then only gently reduce.

9. Baste the bottom of the ribs with reduced liquid. Flip.

Finished ribs, broiled with a nice crispy crust.

10. Baste the top of the ribs with the reduced liquid, broil 2 minutes. Done. You should have nicely browned ribs with some crispy char. Careful, don't burn the ribs and watch for smoke.

Slaw, eastern North Carolina style.

*note: I realized while I was cooking the ribs, that ribs, especially North Carolina ribs, need Slaw! Happily I had enough ingredients on hand to make a batch and place it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.  Whew!

Eastern Slaw North Carolina


4 Cups Shredded Cabbage
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Mustard
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt


1. Mix everything except for the cabbage
2. Add the sauce to the cabbage and blend together
3. Chill in the fridge

Ribs were wonderful.

Thoughts: The ribs were wonderful with this Pinot Noir, not overly seasoned, crusty bits the best. The strawberry flavors of the Oregon Pinot Noir surfaced with the ribs and the slaw had a nice creamy sharp tang to match the wine too. A special meal, each component matched and complimented. Lovely. There were no leftovers. Success!

Recipes and Posts from Wine Pairing Weekend friends

#winePW takes place on on the second Saturday of the month. This #winePW is really a two part event. On February 28, we observed Open That Bottle Night (#OTBN), opening up a special bottle of wine that had languished too long on the shelf. For the upcoming event, we asked participants to share about the bottle they chose to open for #OTBN, and the food that they paired with it. This gave us a fun chance to come up with pairings for special wine.
Be sure to check out these special pairings from my fellow #winePW bloggers!

An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

The March Wine Pairing Weekend #winePW was a huge success. I'm looking forward to another fun wine and food pairing in April. You are invited to join us.

If you are catching this post early enough, you can join our live Twitter Chat on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. ET, via the Twitter hashtag #winePW. If you’ve come to us after March 14, consider joining us for #winePW 11 focused on wine pairings for early spring vegetables hosted by A Day in the Life on the Farm on Saturday, April 11.


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