Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum
(3) An all new expanded Temperature Guide Magnet
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief
(6) Support for AmazingRibs.com!

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

grill, smoker, thermometer, accessories ratings
AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

message from meathead

Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Get Smoke Signals,
our FREE e-letter.
No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email:

bbq ad


If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone


Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

tailgater magazine

2007-03-09 Ernest Gallo: A Conundrum

By Meathead Goldwyn

Ernest Gallo died March 6 at age 97, but when I had dinner with him in 1978 he was at the height of his powers, running the largest wine selling machine in the world, and, after a long dinner, in one telling sentence, he demonstrated why he was such a conundrum, why he was both hallowed and hated.

Ernest co-founded, with his older brother Julio, the E&J Gallo Winery. The pair did more than anyone to popularize wine in a nation still recovering from Prohibition and bathtub gin. Shortly after the repeal of Prohibition 1933 they reportedly started with $5900 and a recipe they found in the library, built an empire, pioneered new methods of viticulture, winemaking, and marketing, but along the way they squashed rivals like grapes and nurtured allies like rare bottles. They taught their children the family business and passed it on to them, but they were so ruthless they sued their younger brother, Joseph, for using the Gallo name on a dairy.

Ernest ran the marketing and sales side of the team. Julio ran the production side. Julio was a year older than Ernest and 11 years older than Joseph. Julio died in 1993 at age 83 when a jeep he was driving on one of his ranches rolled off an embankment. Joseph died at age 87 on February 17, just a few weeks before his nemesis, brother Ernest.

When I came calling in the fall of 1978, Ernest and Julio were putting the final touches on a massive wine processing facility in Modesto in preparation for a huge harvest. The after-effects of a highly publicized boycott by the United Farm Workers for Gallo's hardball labor practices were fading and sales were soaring. America was in a "wine boom" with per capita consumption growing rapidly spurred on by innovative television ads created under Ernest's direction. A new generation of 20-something winemakers, fresh out of the University of California at Davis were breaking all the rules, and wineries were popping up in the coastal valleys like weeds after a rain.

I was teaching wine at Cornell and writing a weekly column about food and drink in the Chicago Tribune. I had just toured the cynosure of wine, Napa and Sonoma, where boisterous winemakers were challenging the establishment order with amazing wines and outrageous new wine styles. Just two years earlier two Napa Valley wineries bested the best of France in a blind tasting in Paris of all places, and the story was front-page news.

Not many connoisseurs were interested in what the Gallos were up to in the central valleys, mass-producing inexpensive table wines in the irrigated desserts surrounding Modesto. So when I came calling, they proudly showed me the huge vineyards stretching to the horizon with the massive mechanical harvesters replacing the rebellious migrants.

I wanted to interview Ernest, but instead of arranging a meeting in a conference room, he invited me to dinner at his home, with his winemaker, Charlie Crawford, and their wives.

It was a fabulous meal prepared by their personal chef. Multiple courses, each accompanied by Gallo wines. They were not special barrel samples, but off-the-shelf bottles that sold for about $5. I tried to ask him questions but he parried them with questions for me. What did I think of his wines? What did the public think of his wines? Where did I think the market was going? Did people care about their labor troubles? Who's hot? Who's not? Insatiable curiosity. No, ceaseless market research.

Finally, the dessert course. Mrs. Gallo called for a tray of macaroons flown in from Ernest's hometown in northern Italy. He twisted the screwcap off a Ruby Port. I asked, a bit timidly, "May I share a bottle of something special I have on ice in my car?"

Two days earlier I had visited Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma Valley where a brilliant young winemaker, as yet relatively unknown, Richard Arrowood, handcrafted some of the finest vintage dated, vineyard designated wines in the world, each with unique personalities. His operation was the polar opposite of Gallo's where the non-vintage wines were manufactured with the goal of consistency and affordability.

Late in the fall of 1976 Arrowood (now at Amapola Creek Winery) lead a team of pickers into the vineyards and they hand selected bunches of overripe Rieslings that had become infected with a mold, botrytis cinerea. Known as the noble rot in Europe, botrytis occurs only when the weather cooperates and dehydrates the grapes leaving behind a super sweet nectar that, when one gathers enough to fill a bathtub, might yield a half-bottle of luscious, syrupy wine that is the ultimate accompaniment for pastries.

Tiny amounts of botrytised wines had been made only two or three times in California previously. Arrowood had made enough to actually put it on the market, and I bought a half-bottle. The price was about $30. It was in a cooler in the car, and I thought it would accompany the macaroons beautifully. Certainly better than the cheap port Gallo wanted to serve. Gallo Ruby Port sold briskly in flat pint and half pint flasks, just the right size for the back pocket of a wino.

When I asked if I could bring in another winery's product, Ernest hesitated for a moment, but Crawford nodded at him and he graciously accepted my offer. I retrieved it from my car under the supervision of Gallo's bodyguard, brought it in, it was uncorked, and passed.

For the first time there was silence. Gallo liked to say that he strived to make wines that encouraged customers to have a second sip. Everyone sipped Arrowood's wine a second time. Smiles broke out around the table at all seats but one. Gallo furrowed his brow. He lifted the viscous liquid to the light. He sniffed at it like a truffle hunting dog. He read the label. Every word. Finally, he passed it to Crawford and said, in a sentence that demonstrated what made him consecrated by friends and cursed by competitors, "Get another bottle of this, send it up to the lab, and figure out how they did it."

Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.


LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

This site is brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that unless you have written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website you have committed a Federal crime. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.