Rodeo and wine

It is rodeo time in Texas with three of nation’s biggest shows bustin’ out of the chutes in coming weeks: San Antonio, San Angelo, Houston.

In olden days, rodeo meant beer and whiskey. Wine was pretty risky.

That was then, this is now. Not only do today’s ranchers pull corks, they’re planting tempranillo and viognier at the home place in that patch past the windmill. If everything goes well, they will add a tasting room to supplement cash flow until the wind farm fellas and the fracking freaks show up. You gotta do a lot of different things nowadays to keep your cow-and-calf operation going.

Saddle pals know whiskey shots may be mandatory when you’re swapping lies around a fire pit and longnecks may be de rigueur at the auction barn (except you never use words like de rigueur when knocking back a brew), but they also know it is hard to beat a big-boy cab paired with an honest-to-God Texas steak.

Credit fat-cutting tannins. People who dislike reds often cite the puckering, over-brewed-tea nature of their experience. Throw well-marbled, grilled beef into the deal, however, and you touch magic.

Tannins cut through and complement fat in red meat. Tannins cleanse your palate for next morsel. Meat sets up your palate for next swallow of wine. World peace can’t be far behind.

More great news: there is a universe of great steak-and-red pairings. Start today, you will never exhaust possibilities in your lifetime. But wineries and cow-and-calf operators will bless you for the effort.

Ride on, rodeo fans. Ride on.


• Raymond Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Selection 2010. Intense, seductive dark fruit, chocolate, oak, firm tannin; solid Napa cab. $35

• William Hill Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Red fruit, cherry, blueberry; vanilla, oak, soft mouth, tight tannin; decant; great with steak. $40

• Summers Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Solid; medium body, fruity, black cherry/currant; deep, rich, silky tannin. $42

• Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 2006. Graphite, mineral, tart, dense, rich; cab power play—velvety big tannins and acidity; long finish; wonderful and still very young. $140

Last round: The answer may not be at the bottom of the wine bottle, but it can’t hurt to check.