An Odd Couple: BBQ and 1996 Barbaresco Pora


Above, an odd couple, styrofoam and crystal stemware: Produttori del Barbaresco 1996 Barbaresco Pora (Cru) paired with bbq ribs from Dinosaur (take-out from Harlem).

Life has always been full of surprises — some good, some not so good — and I am still coming to terms with the recent changes in my life. Frankly, it’s not been easy. Luckily and thankfully, I have been offered a place to stay through the end of the year by my good friend and bandmate Greg Wawro, who is not only the drummer in my band Nous Non Plus (codename = Prof. Harry Covert) but is also a distinguished professor of Political Science at Columbia University.

Greg is a true gourmand and cheese connoisseur. Over the years, on the road and in the apartment where I used to stay, we have enjoyed many a great meal together and many a great bottle of wine. On the occasion of my first night at his apartment, he ordered ribs from one of his favorite barbeque restaurants, not far from his place near Columbia University, Dinosaur BAR B QUE.

A few months ago, when I had to scramble to find a place to live, Greg generously let me store my wine library at his apartment. While Lambrusco would have been my wine of choice to pair with bbq ribs (which were pretty darn good, btw), the closest bottle at hand was a Barbaresco Pora 1996 Produttori del Barbaresco, one of my favorite crus (single-vineyard wines) from one of my all-time favorite producers. Bottlings from the legendary 1996 vintage in Langhe (Piedmont) will probably drink at their best in another 10-20 years but this bottle drank superbly nonetheless (however oddly paired). The fruit and acidity were vibrant, the tar and rose petal flavors rich, and a few more years in bottle would have softened the tannins, which were still very pronounced.

Of all the Produttori del Barbaresco Crus, Pora tends to be the “softest” and it “evolves” more quickly than the others (Asili is perhaps the most coveted and long-lived).

Here’s what Produttori’s winemaker Aldo Vacca has to say:

“PORA: The Dolce Vita Wine. The sandier soil gives to the Pora wine a smoother character, tannins are soft and the aromas always tend to evolve a little faster. This vineyard shows a more exotic character, sometime earthier, than others; it has a ‘lay back’ attitude and it makes me feel like I want to sip it resting in my comfortable armchair, eating pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, watching an old Fellini movie.”

Although the tanginess of the sauce on the ribs wasn’t the ideal pairing, the wine drank beautifully and opened up nicely, the tannins mellowing by the time we poured the last glass.

Life has thrown me some truly “odd” curveballs over the last few months and so an “odd couple” of Barbaresco and BBQ didn’t seem so strange.


On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. (Unger’s unseen wife slams door. She reopens it and angrily hands Felix his saucepan) That request came from his wife…