I made a visit to my local wine shop in search of an interesting wine to feature for this week’s winesday. When I walked in, the gentleman behind the counter looked up from his newspaper and casually offered me a sample from the two bottles he had just opened (the daily grind at the wine shop looks like a tough job!) I decided to sample The Wolftrap 2008 Syrah Blend. This wine struck me immediately as being very tasty yet rather unusual. Smoky, spicy and downright meaty – the unexpected flavors in this wine made it a perfect choice for winesday!

The Wolftrap 2008 Syrah Blend comes from South Africa. It consists of 68% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 2% Viognier. The Syrah provides the spicy, aromatic nose of the wine while the Mourvedre adds structure and weight. Viognier – a white wine – is used to boost the perfume profile of the wine. This wine is described as sweet & savory, a description with which I wholeheartedly agree. How you can have a wine that tastes at once like fruit and salami is beyond me, but this wine does and it works well.

Normally, I haven’t tasted the wines that I feature in advance, and I pick my winesday meals based on either the description on the label or the generic characteristics for a given varietal. This approach can be hit or miss since there is such a wide range of styles within any one varietal. This time, I knew exactly what the wine tasted like and felt some extra pressure to choose the perfect meal. The unusual flavor profile of this wine only added to the challenge. On the one hand, since it is fairly fruity and low in tannins, it would appear to be a food friendly wine. On the other hand, that smoky, beefy flavor really limits the choices. It certainly isn’t one of those red wines that can be paired with fish. This wine is perfectly suited for the one thing I don’t eat much of – meat.

Ultimately, I decided to make red beans and rice. Not the wimpy vegetarian kind that I normally make but the traditional kind using andouille sausage and smoked ham hock. This would provide the meaty flavor that I was looking for without me actually having to eat a lot of meat. It was perhaps not a perfect pairing, but was certainly good. The spicy andouille sausage was well-matched to the spiciness of the wine. The wine also went surprisingly well with the stewed collard greens I served on the side (not so much with the cornbread, though.) The Wolftrap 2008 Syrah blend is not a wine for the faint of heart. It’s savory, meaty flavor could easily be a turnoff for some. If you like trying wines that are a little bit different (and retail for under $10, are readily available and have a screw cap,) this one’s a winner!

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