Sweet & Spicy Ribs with Lakewood Vineyards Riesling #WinePW

Riesling Goes to the Barbecue
Typical food pairing choices for Riesling: pork, spicy dishes, sweet dishes. Hmmm, let me think: Ribs! Our Wine Pairing Weekend group is working with New York Finger Lakes Wine Country this month, so we’re all putting on our food pairing chef’s toques to deliver some great ideas for these wines. Riesling is one of the flagship grapes of the region. I don’t usually see Riesling as a wine pairing for the smoker, but it really is a natural. Read on!

New York Finger Lakes and Lakewood Vineyards
Fruit farmers in the Finger Lakes since 1951, the Stamp family planted wine grapes in the 1980’s and pressed their first wines in 1988. Lakewood vineyards is located on the west side of Seneca Lake and today they farm 80 acres of wine grapes with 15 total varieties planted.

Disclosure: Wines for this post were provided as samples, no other compensation was involved. All opinions expressed are my own.

Lakewood Vineyards Dry Riesling 2018 (sample, $15 SRP or online here) 10.8% abv
back of the bottle marks the wine as off-dry, at the dividing line between dry and medium-dry
Eye: Clear, pale lemon. Tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Not frizzante just that touch of dissolved CO2.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of rose petals, lemon, lemon curd, pineapple, slate, telltale Riesling “freshly cut garden hose”
Mouth: Off-dry, medium intensity flavor, medium+ acidity, medium body, low alcohol, silky texture, medium finish. Flavors mirror the nose with a floral touch, lemon, lemon curd, pineapple and a subtle bit of the Riesling petrol note.
Conclusions: Nicely done Riesling. Dry in the sense of balanced with the acid, reminds me a bit of a German Kabinett Riesling, although this shows some of the Finger Lakes climate. The wine is a bit softer in texture and acidity, but still clearly Riesling.

Lakewood Vineyards Riesling 2018 (sample, $15 SRP or online here) 10.7% abv
Back of bottle label indicates the wine is between medium-dry and medium-sweet.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon. A touch darker in color than the Dry Riesling although still pale.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of lemon, lemon curd, key lime, orange peel. A touch of freshly cut rubber hose – that telltale Riesling petrol note, however, it is subtle.
Mouth: Medium-dry with medium intensity flavor, medium+ acidity, medium+ body, plush, unctuous texture, low alcohol, medium finish.
Conclusions: I didn’t get as sweet an impression as the label indicated. The sweetness is definitely there, but its well balanced with the acidity. I wouldn’t hesitate to have this at a meal, it isn’t so sweet that I would keep it only for dessert.

Riesling with Smoked Pork
The next time you fix pork at the grill or smoker, think Riesling! Refreshing acidity and either a touch of sweetness or a bit more, it’s perfect for pork. The acidity cleanses the palate after a luscious bite of pork, and the sweetness is nice to both cool the spice and match the sweetness. I had a hard time picking a favorite of the two wines with the ribs, it will boil down to your preference for a little sweetness. The sweeter Riesling was definitely still a wine for the dinner table, don’t hold it for dessert only.

Smoky, rich, sweet and spicy. This calls for Riesling!

Classic Smoked Pork Ribs

Most grills can be set up to cook low and slow, many hours at 225-250° F. Ceramic grills are particularly adept at this cooking method, holding in heat and moisture over many hours.

Here’s the rub I use: NMT basic BBQ rub  and my sauce is from the grocery store: Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce. Note that the rub I use doesn’t have salt, you salt the day before. If your rub contains salt, go ahead and apply the rub the day before. The only element which penetrates the meat is salt, so the end result is the same.


  • 2-4 racks of ribs, depending on the size and cut, and how hungry your crowd is.
  • Kosher salt
  • Mustard
  • BBQ rub of your choice
  • 8 oz. apple juice
  • BBQ sauce of your choice – you’ll want a sweet red or sweet & spicy red sauce


  • Several hours to the day before:
  • Remove any silverskin from the outside of the ribs
  • Salt the ribs, cover loosely and place in the refrigerator for a few hours up to overnight.
  • Day of the cook (about 5 hours in advance of meal time):
  • Rub a thin coat of mustard over the surface of the ribs, this allows the rub to stick
  • Apply the rub to the ribs, sprinkling generously over both sides
  • Preheat your grill for indirect heat and 225-250° F
  • Place the ribs on the grill, either flat or in a rack. Turn or move them every 30 minutes
  • After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the grill
  • Wrap each rack of ribs in a double layer of aluminum foil. Before sealing the foil, pour in about 2 ounces of apple juice into each rack packet.
  • Return the ribs to the grill for 2 hours
  • For the final hour, remove the ribs from foil and return to the grill. Baste with barbecue sauce during the final 30 minutes if you want “wet” ribs.
  • Total time on the grill: about 6 hours.
  • Serve with your favorite summer sides and enjoy!

3 Responses to “Sweet & Spicy Ribs with Lakewood Vineyards Riesling #WinePW”
  1. Lynn says:

    We’ve never had Riesling with ribs. Mark keeps saying he wants to make ribs so I’m forwarding him your recipe (nudge, nudge). We have both Riesling (unfortunately none from Fingerlakes ;-( and also a Grüner. Now just need a non-rainy day.

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