Chocolate Cabernet Barbecue Sauce

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The arrival of Memorial Day ushers in the official start of grilling season and I’m stoked. I get plenty of Texas barbecue here in Austin all year round, but it’s not the same as a nice charred steak from the grill. It’s important to make the distinction. Barbecue is cooking “low and slow” with indirect heat until meat is juicy and tender. Grilling takes advantage of direct heat with food cooking quicker at higher temperatures. The taste and textures of the resulting food differs. The longer and slower the meat is cooked, the more tender it will be (with an eventual tipping point of being overcooked and dry, of course). This is a direct result of the connective tissues being broken down over time. That’s not to say that grilled meat isn’t tender, but the cuts used are often different. Try and grill a brisket for Memorial Day and you’ll quickly realize you’ll be ordering pizza instead.


Texas brisket is so good that the addition of barbecue sauce is generally considered superfluous. That’s not to say that barbecue sauce doesn’t have its place even here in Texas. There are as many different barbecue sauces as there are barbecue joints. Sauces even vary by region of the country and type of meat it’s being used on. Head to the Carolinas and you’ll find vinegar based sauce paired with pork or travel to Kansas City and ribs will be covered in a sweet, tomato-based sauce.

I’ve come up with a recipe for sauce that combines chocolate and cabernet sauvignon. The  berry flavors from the wine pair well with the dark rich flavors from the chocolate.  Fear not, you won’t feel like you’re eating dessert. This is definitely barbecue sauce!  While buying sauce at the store is easy, it’s not always better. Making this sauce at home takes about 20 minutes and yields some seriously tasty goodness.

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Serve the chocolate cabernet barbecue sauce with pork, lamb or beef. It might be a little heavy for chicken but there aren’t any rules, so eat it how you’d like. It’s fairly common to baste meat with sauce while grilling. However, the chocolate in this sauce will burn and turn bitter. Instead, brush the sauce on after cooking or finish the meat on indirect heat.

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While you’re grilling, barbecuing or taking advantage of holiday sales, don’t forget that brave soldiers gave their lives for the freedom we often take for granted.

Chocolate Cabernet Barbecue Sauce

Yield: 2 cups


  • 1 1/2 cups cabernet sauvignon wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate


  1. Add the wine to a small sauce pan. Bring the wine to a boil over high heat and reduce to a 1/2 cup, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 5-6 minutes until softened. If the mixture begins to brown, lower the heat.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except for the chocolate and bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer the sauce to a blender and pulse on high until smooth.
  6. Enjoy!