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Alto Shiraz

Recipe & Pairings

Smoke lends more depth and weight to food and smoked dishes should be paired with a well-structured wine to balance this weight. The Alto Shiraz not only loves smoky flavours but can also withstand the added weight that the smokiness lends to any dish. The delicate spicy quality, married to a dark fruitiness, makes it the perfect accompaniment to naturally smoked foods like wood smoked bacon and bratwurst. The combination of black pepper and smoked paprika lends the perfect balance of spice and smokiness to accompany this wine. Surprisingly however, the acidity in chorizo sausage did not go well with this wine, even though it is often paired with a shiraz.

Smoky flavours in food

Smoke infuses food with complex flavours and aromas and elevates even the most mundane meal to gourmet status. Grilling meat over an open fire lends a natural smokiness to it, but there are also other ways in which smokiness can be added to your favourite dishes. Using smoked salt or smoked paprika as a rub on meat before grilling will lend a wonderful smoky flavour to it. However, avoid using “fakes” like liquid smoke to add smokiness to your food, as it will not give the same depth of flavour and might leave a chemical aftertaste. “Real” smoky flavour is created by natural smoke obtained from an open fire or by burning wood chips or even dried tea leaves.


Spice: This wine has subtle spicy notes which makes it a perfect partner with the classically paired black pepper. The black pepper should not be overpowering though; a good grinding on a flame grilled steak should do the trick.

Cheese: Naturally smoked and matured cheeses like the Oak Smoked Stanford pair perfectly with this wine. This is a full fat hard cheese that gets its delicate smoky flavour by being smoked with wine barrels shavings.

Spice: Smoked paprika enhances the innate smoky and spicy character of this wine. Use it as a dry rub before grilling steak or add it slow roasted short ribs.

Smoked sausages: Here we refer to naturally smoked sausages like smoked pork sausages or bratwurst. These fatty sausages soften the tannins in this wine, while enhancing the ripe fruit undertones.

Smoked Almonds: The smoky, intensely aromatic flavours of smoked almonds suit this wine perfectly!

Beef Carpaccio

Serves 6

3 rooibos tea bags, torn open

½ beef fillet (about 450 gm)

2 tbsp (30 ml) quality salt flakes like Maldon

2 tbsp (30 ml) smoked paprika

¼ cup (60 ml) black peppercorns, ground coarsely

¼ cup (60 ml) crème fraiche, in a small bowl

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

3 tbsp (45 ml) butter

½ cup parmesan shavings

A small handful fresh rocket leaves

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

  1. Rub the fillet all over with the salt, paprika and peppercorns to form a crust around the fillet.
  2. Line a wok or big pan with foil and break the teabags open – scatter the leaves over the foil, discard the bags, and heat over a high heat.
  3. As soon as the tea starts to smoke, place a wire rack over the tea in the wok or pan and place the fillet on top of the rack with the small bowl of crème fraiche next to it.
  4. Cover the wok or pan with a lid or more foil to ensure that no smoke escapes.
  5. Leave to smoke for 6-7 minutes to infuse to fillet and the crème fraiche with smoky flavours.
  6. Remove the fillet and crème fraiche from the heat.
  7. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and fry the fillet until browned on all the sides, do not overcook the fillet at this stage. The meat only needs to be seared all around and not cooked through.
  8. Remove from the pan and let it cool completely before wrapping it tightly with foil.
  9. Place the foil-wrapped fillet in the freezer overnight.
  10. Remove the fillet from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Peel away the foil and slice into thin slices using a mandolin slicer or very sharp knife. Discard the first few slices.
  11. Place the slices, overlapping slightly on the serving plate as you slice them until the serving platter is filled with carpaccio slices.
  12. Top the carpaccio slices with the parmesan shavings, dollops of the smoky crème fraiche and fresh rocket leaves.

Smoky Barbeque Rub

1 tbsp (15 ml) smoked paprika

1 tbsp (15 ml) coriander seeds

1 tbsp (15 ml) cumin

1 tsp (5 ml) garlic flakes

½ tsp (2,5 ml) dried rosemary

½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt

½ tsp (2,5 ml) soft brown sugar

½ tsp (2,5 ml) black pepper

  1. Blend all the spices together in a spice grinder to form a spice rub and keep in an airtight container