Discussing the use of music in A Discovery of Witches meant we needed a musical wine note. Welcome to the wonders of syrah, as in Que Sera Sera.
In each podcast episode, we bring you a note about wine because wine is a main form of sustenance for vampires when they’re not drinking, you know, blood. It also happens that Deborah Harkness, Renaissance woman that she is, is an award-winning wine blogger and wine enthusiast. If you’ve never read Deborah’s wine blog, “Good Wine Under $20,” you should have a look. While she doesn’t write it now, it is a reminder that apparently there’s nothing this woman can’t do.
We have two more reasons we like to include a wine note in each episode. We really like wine; we like it a lot. We also happen to have our own personal sommelier, Bayard. This man knows his wine and he loves sharing his knowledge and making wine accessible to everyone. Bayard is a founding partner at Crafted Brands and we love learning from him.
To set the scene here, you need to imagine that you’ve just heard Bayard singing “Que Sera Sera,” the tune made most famous by Doris Day. Better yet, listen to the podcast episode and hear him for yourself.
Why, you ask, did Bayard sing his introduction? Why because the episode was all about creative use of music in A Discovery of Witches, of course. So of course we needed a musical wine note. And Bayard, punster that he is, chose this one. Here’s what he had to say.
The song is one that everyone is familiar with and was popularized back in the mid-’50s in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. And that kind of leads me into our wine varietal of the week, which is Syrah. Syrah is an awesome grape. For those of you that are familiar with Rhone varietals, and what I mean by that are wines that are indigenous to the Rhone region, the Rhone Valley in France, which is in the kind of southeastern part of France.
For those of you that are familiar with your geography, it starts down kind of by Montpelier, almost on the coast of the Mediterranean, all the way up to almost to Léon. In the southeastern part of France, the Syrah grape is truly phenomenal. It is widely used in the U.S. in California, especially the northern part of California and the central coast part of California that extends from Santa Barbara all the way up to the southern tip of the bay area by San Jose.
Not to be confused, although they are the same, Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. A lot of people ask me that question. You will find Shiraz from South Africa or Australia. Those are the same grape, and basically it goes back to phonetic labeling. So along the lines of Syrah, sometimes it would be written down as C-I-R-A-S, Ciras, but due to the French protected origin, the name was changed to Shiraz at some point in the 1980s. Most people in Australia think its best expression comes from plantings in what they call the Barossa Valley in Australia. So for those you that like Australian wine, you might want to check that out.
Back to the star performer of Syrah. For those of you who would like a good bottle of wine this week, ask your local wine retailer to show you some red Rhone wines from the Rhone Valley. Most of them, if not all, will be Syrah dominant. Some of the reds will have a blending of a white grape from the Rhone Valley called Viognier. That would be exceptional. Pair it with a really nice pasta dish or some heavier proteins and you will have a phenomenal dinner on your hands. Enjoy.