Don’t Mess with Texas: Two Reds from Bending Branch Winery Paired with Burgers #WinePW

My first experience with Texas wine that I recall was in France last month at the community dinner the night before the World Wine Tasting Championship where everyone brings wine from their own country to share.

Our teammates on the USA wine tasting team were two guys from Texas: they’d studied to be somms together and now one works as a somm and the other as a lawyer. The Texans brought one bottle of wine from Texas, Sue brought two 2010 “Left Bank”  from Cantara Cellars in Camarillo CA, I brought a 2014 Grenache and a 2013 Riesling from Clos des Amis, and our coach brought a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel and a bottle of Napa chardonnay.

A few of the wines from the community dinner at the World WIne Tasting Championship at Chateau Chambord, in the Loire, France. One of them is probably the infamous wine from Texas. People loved the Ridge Lytton Springs Zin, the Clos des Amis Grenache and Riesling and the Cantara Left Bank.

Everyone wanted to try the Ridge as a Ridge Montebello cab famously beat out the French in the Judgement of Paris, but everyone was MOST curious about the wine from Texas.

They were warned: it was big, It was bold. It was TEXAS wine.

Sue and I knew we’d be writing about Texas wine for today so we were really curious about it too.

And yep, it was as big and bold as Texas. To get an idea, check out this video of Jimmy Fallon singing a Texas version of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”



That bottle of Texas wine was a little bit overwhelming — and underwhelming at the same time. It was a monster, really.

So when we opened up a Petite Sirah and a Tannat from Bending Branch Winery to find them as gentle as feral kittens as opposed to pouncing pumas, I was surprised. For one, Petite Sirah and Tannat are big bold wines on their own. And then to add the Texas factor? We were pleased: these were wines we could actually get behind and support.

Still: Dont Mess with Texas– these are two seriously big and bold wines!

Located near the scenic Guadalupe River outside of Comfort, Texas, the 56 acre property was established in 2009 by Robert W. Young, M.D., his wife Brenda, and their daughter, Alison and is known today as a Texas Hills destination for tastings, picnics, and live music on the shaded patio and under the large live oak tree on the deck.

Here they marry Old World winemaking with modern techniques like Cryo-Maceration and Thermoflash fermentation to make what they call “Next World Wines.” Whole-berry or carbonic maceration extracts color, flavor, and tannins to make bold and balanced reds.

“Bending Branch is most known for Tannat, a grape variety that exceeds expectations in our Texas terroir,” they say on their website. “We’ve also had great success experimenting with Charbono, Sagrantino, and Souzão, along with perennial favorites of Tempranillo, Malbec, and Mourvedre.”

In 2018, the winery was voted No. 3 Best Tasting Room in USA Today’s 10 Best Awards. Bending Branch Winery has been voted Best Texas Winery four years in a row in the San Antonio Express-News Readers’ Choice Awards – 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.


Cheese Plate with strongly flavored cheeses
Lamb/Bison Sliders with organic greens and tomato: one with olives and one with mushrooms
Various cheeses and other toppings
Sweet and Russet Potato “Chips”

2016 – Bending Branch – Petite Sirah – 14% alcohol SRP $35
From Newsom Vineyards, one of the oldest and most respected vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA.
Sample for my review consideration; thank you!

Color: Deep and dense with violet and purple hughs, pale mauve rim.

Nose: Blueberry, dried chaparral, dried shrubs, however this wine is really all about the fruit

Palate: Plums fresh tart plums, there is the fleshiness of the plum, and the skin that is very tart, with a stewed plum finish. Silt and slate also on the finish. Only there are the minerals present. The finish is very long and lingering.

Pairing: Blue cheese was fabulous with the wine. Fine with the salami, but as ir would have been better with cooked salami like on a pizza, Sue fried some up to put as a topper on our sliders. We usually love oven roasted potatoes with most rich red wines, but the rosemary seasoned sweet spuds did not work with the Petite Sirah.

In terms of the burgers, Sue created an olive slider to go with this wine: 1/2 ground lamb, and 1/2 ground bison with chopped salt cured olives, topped with blue cheese, tomato and fresh greens. What a treat. The flavors went so well with this bold wine. It brings out such a fruity dimension to this wine. This combination is another OMG moment.

2017 – Bending Branch – Tannat – 14.9% alcohol SRP $30
Sample for my review consideration; thank you!

Color: Garnet with a  fuchsia rim

Nose: Violet pastilles, forest floor, caramel, toast, vanilla, candied toasted almonds, rich milk chocolate.

Palate: Bright ripe fruit, up front there is a burst of very ripe bramble fruit, with a very dry lingering finish, with a clay like silty finish reminding Sue of the dust bowl.

Pairing: This is not a cocktail wine and we immediately wanted food with the wine. The aged gouda was too dry to pair with the wine, not a great finish. It also did not like the drunken goat cheese. It loved the fat of the salami– this wine really wants fat and cured meat. Of all the cheeses on the cheese plate, it liked the blue cheese best.

Both of us just wanted to get right to our buffalo/lamb sliders for this wine, but we found the slow roasted sweet potato rounds with a bit of olive oil and herbs offered a wonderful a sweet and savory ying and yang that comes through in both the dish and the wine. Sue felt this wine with the sweet potato was like mustard on a sausage. It balanced everything out just right. It was not as great with regular oven roasted potatoes. I experienced a lot of pepper in the wine when pairing it with my slider, while Sue felt it brought out a nice sweetness in the wine and masked the heavy toast and vanilla.

Two nights later I paired the wine with a filet mignon from the grill and baked potato– that was pure heaven and for me, much better than the slider.

For more Texas food and wine pairings and ideas, join our 8am Pacific twitter chat by following the hashtag #WinePW and #TexasFineWine.



Twitter tasting discussion topics and times:

8:00am PST

Welcome to the #winePW chat. We’re talking wines from Texas and pairing food with them. Please introduce yourself and where you’re tweeting from. Share a blog link if you like. #TexasFineWine


8:05am PST

Q1 Have you ever had wine from Texas? And, if so, do you drink Texas wine often? If so, any favorite varieties, regions or styles? Why? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:10am PST

Q2 If you wrote about a Texas wine and food pairing(s), please share a photo and link to your post. How did your pairing(s) work out? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:15am PST

Q3 Did you pair your Texas wine with Texan food? Why or why not? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:20am PST

Q4 Any particular challenges in creating your Texas wine and food pairing(s)? What did you learn in the process? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:25am PST

Q5 Tell us about the Texas wine or wine(s) you enjoyed most or found the most interesting and why. #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:30am PST

Q6 Did you discover any Texas styles of wine or grape varieties that were new to you? If so, please share. #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:35am PST

Q7 Several of our #WinePW bloggers received samples from event sponsor @TexasFineWine. If you didn’t receive a sample, was it difficult for you to find wine from Texas. Any tips for those who do find it challenging? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:40am PST

Q8 Did your Texas wine & food pairing or this discussion pique your interest in any Texas wines or wine styles you’ve not tried before? If so, tell us. #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:45am PST

Q9 Any final thoughts about Texas wine and food pairing? #winePW #TexasFineWine


8:50am PST

15 wine and food bloggers participated in this month’s Texas Wine Exploration for #winePW. You can see the list of their posts on @Culinary_Cam’s post – > Happy reading! 


8:55am PST

Next month the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers will be exploring ‘Pet Nat’, which is short for pétillant naturel, with Cindy of @GrapeExp_Cindy. Get ready for some for sparkling wine and food inspiration. Stay tuned for the invitation.  #winePW 


9:00am PST

Thanks for joining our #winePW discussion of Texas wines and food to accompany them. A special thanks to @TexasFineWine who provided wine samples to many of us. Cheers! #TexasFineWine



17 thoughts on “Don’t Mess with Texas: Two Reds from Bending Branch Winery Paired with Burgers #WinePW

  1. I suppose it isn’t surprising, Texas wines have such a wide variety of approaches it’s difficult to pick out a regional style. Not unlike many of our other new world regions. While still big, my wines were quite a bit more restrained than yours sound.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt similarly about the wines I received — I was expecting huge wines, and was pleasantly surprised when they weren’t. I love reading about all the mixing and matching to find what worked and what didn’t. Yum!


Please Comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s