The Drink That Dare Not Speak its Name


So who out there likes sparkling shiraz? Who has ever tried the stuff?

Produced in Australia since the 1830s, it took the country by storm in the last decade and is now the Oz aperitif of choice. This either proves they’re a bunch of red neck heathens, or possibly more willing to experiment than the rest of us.

My attempts to serve this wine to Norte Americanos have been greeted by an unusally uniform response. For all intents and purposes most folks respond like the older brothers in the perfect Life Cereal ad: “let’s see if Mikey will eat it.”

Well folks Mikey likes it.

It tends to a slightly leathery nose, rather like a good pinot noir, with lots of jammy fruit on the palate relieved by the scrubbing bubbles of CO2. The finish is dry, and slightly tannic.

It’s a remarkably good food wine, being especially good with barbecued pork. (The steak in front is wild boar loin cut.)

The two pictured above feature the mass market Seaview, which is the better entry level wine – lighter and more citrus when cold, you get the full sparkling shiraz effect when the wine is at room temperature.

Bleasdale is an old independent farm, that makes good quality wines. Their sparkler is more intense, less fruity and more winey. This isn’t neccessarily better but it will work for folks who like more More MORE out of their wine.

Serve at your own risk. It won’t kill you, and will probably improve your ability to taste wine with an open mind. But don’t expect your guests to jump on board immediately.

I get guests to try wines outside their comfort zone by offering it to them, after telling them what it is. When they decline, I chug their glass, grin and thank them, saying “More for me, then.” The brighter ones are haunted by the idea they may be missing something, and will usually try. The others, well they’re welcome to their overdone CA zins.

By the way, I usually serve it in white wine glasses to enjoy the nose more. The point of a flute is to watch the bead, which is invisible in the opaque sparkling shiraz. A bigger bowl, pinot noir glass or brandy snifter works better but tends to offend guests even more.

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