Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Yes, it’s Labor Day. That most likely means you’re grilling, and while you could just have a burger, what the heck—you’ve labored! You’ve labored all year long! You’ve labored like crazy, gosh darn it! Buy yourself a big steak already. You deserve your share of the cow.
Now, the default pairing option for steaks is Cabernet Sauvignon; it pops up every time someone asks the question, the way those inflatable clown dolls do when you punch them (or who knows, maybe the way real clowns do when you punch them, too). But there are plenty of other great wines out there for steak, and one of the best of them is Australian Shiraz.
There’s more regional variety to Shiraz than a lot of people realize—cooler climate regions like Western Australia and Victoria tend to produce lighter-bodied, spicier wines, while warmer regions like the Barossa and McLaren Vale lean toward the traditional big, ripe, blackberry-rich styles—but either way you’re talking reds with substantial flavor and emphatic tannins. Which is to say, perfect for big slabs of grilled beef.
2009 D’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz ($13)
2010 Winner’s Tank Shiraz ($14)
2008 The Wishing Tree Shiraz ($14)
2010 Spring Seed Wine Company The Scarlet Runner Shiraz ($17)
2010 Innocent Bystander Victoria Shiraz ($20)
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