Wine match: Shiraz

If you are cooking Italian style - especially if you are in holiday mode - it is a good idea to have a bottle of wine on the go, partly because most recipes will benefit from a splash or two, but also because a glass in the hand always helps it seem less than a chore.

It's also a good way to while away the time with friends or family, sharing a bottle as dinner or lunch is being prepared at the bach.

Pretty much whatever you fancy will go with the foods at left, so whatever is at hand will do - in my case a bottle of Halo Hawkes Bay Syrah 2008, being the superior label of Sacred Hill winery.

I'm happy to give it a plug because there really are some excellent syrahs (synonymous with shiraz, only it sounds more refined!) coming out of Hawkes Bay.

Generally the New Zealand syrah, as far as I can ascertain, tends to be a little less dense, and more elegant than your bog-standard Australian cousin, and the Halo is certainly an easy drinking smooth example, with a little more depth than some.

This may be because it boasts at least a component of grapes from the famed Gimblett Gravels mini-region.

In any case you'll get the typical peppery flavours alongside the deep purple colour and black cherry fruitiness.

It retails in the $25 range - for which price you might pick up a couple of bottles of a jammy OK ocker model.

But quantity isn't everything.

For the sophistication and delicate profusion of flavours typical in wines of the northern Rhone valley in France, look for syrah wines by Vidal, Esk Valley, Ngatarawa, Craggy Range, Villa Maria, Te Awa, Te Mata and others.


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