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Black Swan Shiraz 2001


An Australian Shiraz that's big in the mouth but small on the wallet.

I like to say that the Kendall-Jackson 2000 Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay was my first wine. That's not exactly accurate. Before my wife introduced me to decent wine I had some limited exposure to wine-in-a-box at parties and once when a restaurant brought some food to the TV station and nobody wanted to take home the leftover wine after the Friday food segment of the noon news which sadly did not include the corks.

This proto-experience with wine is one of the reasons that it took me a very long time to get into reds; I was used to thinking of them as warm and bland and dry and not very refreshing at all. As a result I was drinking Chardonnay with anything and everything. Not that it's any kind of sin to do so, but it's certainly suboptimal and limiting.

My wife and I wound up in an Olive Garden in Scranton, PA one night and I ordered what I always do when I'm there -- I went on the Tour Of Italy. And even being a philistine at the time I sort of knew that I probably didn't want to drink a Chardonnay with veal parmigana. I was also feeling cheap, so I ordered a glass of Shiraz which sounded kind of exotic.

Given that my perception of red wine as milquetoast, I was pleasantly surprised by the boldness of the Black Swan. It has a spicy, black pepper taste which doesn't overpower, but does give a nice full mouth-feel which compliments meats like steak and veal very well.

I was even more pleased to find that the wine is fairly easy to find when I live and is a wonderful value. To decrease the odds of getting crap wine, my wife and I had been avoiding anything under $10. So to find a wonderful everyday wine at around $8 is a happy discovery indeed!


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