Grill Braised Brisket with Duckhorn Merlot #MerlotMe #WinePW

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot

Unabashedly Californian, Duckhorn Merlot is so delicious, even old world fans will be won over

For October, It’s Merlot Pairing Weekend
For the third year, our Wine Pairing Weekend clan has been happily hijacked into a month-long celebration of the Merlot grape in collaboration with the #MerlotMe group of wineries. Take a look at what our group has cooked up farther down in this post. If you see this early on Saturday, October 14, join our chat at 10am CDT on Twitter at the joint hashtags of #MerlotMe and #WinePW.

Duckhorn Merlot at the grill

Relaxed afternoons with a slow cook and a glass of wine

Cook Everything on the Grill
The recipe for today’s food pairing is originally designed to be made indoors on the stovetop and oven and you’ll find it via link below.  I have fun trying “normal” recipes on my ceramic grill. In fact, I look for every excuse to cook on the grill. I like the additional flavor of cooking over a fire, and when warranted, the addition of a bit of smoke. I think it boils down to this: I love playing with fire.

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2014

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2014

Duckhorn Vineyards Love Affair with Merlot
Duckhorn Vineyards has had a fascination with Merlot since 1978. Founder Dan Duckhorn always enjoyed Merlot’s friendly nature and food affinity. Today Duckhorn vineyards makes multiple Merlot’s ranging from a Napa Valley blend to several single vineyard wines and even a wallet friendly Sonoma Merlot from Sonoma in their Decoy line.

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2014 (winery sample, $54 SRP)
Varietal Content: 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc; Cooperage: 100% French Oak Château-style Barrels (60 Gallons), Barrel Aging: 16 Months, Age of Barrels: 40% New, 60% Neutral

Eye: Clear, Medium intensity ruby with pretty ruby-purple edge
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity ripe blackberries, blueberries abundant ripe fruit. Vanilla with a touch of cocoa.
Mouth: Dry, full body, medium acidity medium- tannins. Smooth rich, ripe blue/black fruit with a nice baked fruit finish. Overall, clearly a California interpretation but so well done, it’s irresistible!

Duckhorn Merlot paired with braised brisket and onions

Welcoming cooler weather with a hearty meal of brisket with long cooked onions.

Grill Braised Brisket & Onions with Duckhorn Merlot
As soon as fall colors appear, I break out the dutch oven and start thinking of those long, slow braised dishes. The appeal of this dish is the double flavor hit of the lightly smoked brisket with the hours long slow cooking of the onions. The horseradish sauce provides a nice bright counterpoint to the slow roasted savory flavors of the meat and onions. The ripe fruit of the Duckhorn Merlot seemed to play equally well with the spicy horseradish and the deeply flavored onions. All in all a great combination!

Grill braised brisket with onions and horseradish sauce

Let the cooler weather come, we’re ready with the dutch oven

#MerlotMe Takeover of Wine Pairing Weekend
Take a look below for a preview of our bloggers excellent pairing ideas for Merlot. All our blog posts will go live on Saturday morning in time for our chat. We hope to see you there!

Disclosure: I received this wine as a sample from Duckhorn as part of our collaboration with #MerlotMe. All opinions expressed are my own.

Here’s the cook in photos (click on any photo for full size slide show, “escape” to return)

Grill Braised Brisket and Onions

If you’re using your stove, you can simply use David Lebovitz’s interpretation of Nach Waxman’s Beef Brisket.  If you enjoy playing with your grill, you might give my modified version a try. I loved the addition of a bit of smoky flavor to the dish. Note: the horseradish sauce is a delicious addition of flavor, especially if you can find some fresh horseradish root. Horseradish sauce recipe is in the link above.


  • 3 lb beef brisket
  • 3 lbs. onions sliced end to end (equal weight of onions and beef, and you’ll wish you had more onions!)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove sliced thinly


  • 1 day before cooking, salt and pepper the brisket generously, place loosely covered in the refrigerator
  • Set up the grill for direct heat and pre-heat to 350°F
  • Place the brisket on the grill and sear both sides, about 5 minutes per side, then remove from the grill
  • Smear the tomato paste over the top side of the brisket, then sprinkle the garlic slices on top
  • Place the onion filled dutch oven on the grill and saute the onions, stirring regularly for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly softened. If liquid is needed, add 1/4 cup water. After a few minutes, the onions will sweat out sufficient water to avoid burning (close the grill lid in between stirs)
  • Remove the dutch oven from the grill.
  • Set the grill for indirect heat and smoking (if desired): remove grill racks, add smoking wood chunks, install the heat deflector plates and replace the grill racks.
  • Place the dutch oven back on the grill, place the brisket on top of the onions. If you are using a ceramic grill, you can leave the lid off the dutch oven.
  • Adjust the indirect oven temperature to 250-280°F
  • Braise the onions and beef to an internal temperature on the beef of 195°F. Mine took about 3 hours, make sure you judge doneness by temperature, not by time!
  • Note, if you want to cook your vegetables on the grill, you can bring the grill temperature up to about 350°F at the tail end of your cooking session, or remove and cover the dutch oven and run the temperature as high as you need to cook your vegetables.

Grill Braised Brisket with Duckhorn Merlot for #MerlotMe at

















22 Responses to “Grill Braised Brisket with Duckhorn Merlot #MerlotMe #WinePW”
  1. Lynn says:

    The hubby and I are long time fans of Duckhorn Merlot. Your description of the the 2014 in particular sounds rather voluptuous.

    Very cool using a dutch oven on the grill- have to try that one day. A tasty article indeed Jeff!

  2. Sounds like a delicious pairing! I think I might have to try the Duckhorn Merlot with my spoon roast topped with horseradish cream, based on how the flavor combos worked for you.

  3. What a beautiful meal! We too love to cook on the grill whenever we can, but we’ve never tried a braise on there. Such a fun idea and what a wonderful pairing!

  4. Wendy Klik says:

    My favorite part of that gorgeous plate is that colorful cauliflower. Loving the Duckhorn Wines. Thanks again, Jeff.

  5. crynning says:

    This is a winner, Jeff! And with these pictures- I’m ready to lick the screen on my laptop:) Thanks!!

  6. Jane says:

    What a great idea to have my husband grill the meat in a dutch oven and in the process enhance the meat with some smoky flavors! With the cooler weather comfort foods, I need to stock up on more Merlot, I forgot what a truly food friendly wine Merlot is. Cheers!

  7. Another winning recipe and pairing. Now that we have finally dipped below 90 I can begin thinking about braising. This one is a keeper. Thanks.

  8. What a spectacular pairing!

  9. Jill Barth says:

    You need to stop it right there with that gorgeous meal – I mean, seriously, how do you all EAT such art? Really beautiful post and I know it must be divine. Brisket is one of those things, when done right it is just elevating. Thanks for putting me on track with your process, hope to make this soon!

  10. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Who doesn’t love playing with fire on the grill?! Looks absolutely delicious–as per usual.

  11. Alex Olander says:

    So nice photos! Food and wine, so amazing, it’s best life here…thanks for sharing!!

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