Our cooking wood of choice is pecan. It can be found throughout the Southeast, Texas, and is predominant in California. Sometimes we complement the pecan by mixing one stick of hickory with it. You need to be careful in using hickory as sometimes it is very harsh and you have no way of knowing how harsh until you have finished your cook. Use hickory on large cuts of meat, like hams and shoulder.
Oak is a suitable back up to pecan and can be found in most parts of the country.
Mesquite needs to be left to the Texans! I strongly recommend that you never burn it in a Southern Pride or Ole Hickory…unless you want to live with it for the life of your cooker. It leaves an oily residue that is almost impossible to remove from your cooker.
Fruitwoods: Apple wood is great! Jack’s Old South, one of the winningest teams in the USA uses peach. Cherry is another good one. Although we have never had access to them, we hear grapevines are good! I would love to find some of those old vines that they use to make my favorite BBQ wine –Old Vine Zinfandel. Also, in the Pacific Northwest, alderwood is the wood of choice when cooking salmon.
Wood smoke should always be used as an accent flavor…and never a predominant flavor. Nothing is worse than to go eat some “Que” and three days later be belching up smoke. Charcoal is a good substitute for wood when you are doing expensive cuts of beef when you do not want a heavy ‘woody’ smoke taste.