Imagine you have had a red-letter day foraging in your favorite specialty markets and have scored a beautiful pile of fresh morel mushrooms and a bag of tender fiddlehead ferns. You know just how you'll prepare them: sauteed, then sauced in sage brown butter and served over al dente fettuccine. But what to drink? It will take a special wine to complement your edible treasures.
The 2006 Water Wheel Bendigo Shiraz (about $18 at big-box stores), from the Cumming family winery in the Bendigo region northwest of Melbourne, Australia, is the perfect match.
This deep garnet wine intrigues from first sniff with an aroma compounded of clean crisp cedar and a whiff of vanilla. This is especially true if you have opened the wine a good half-hour before serving, which also allows the bold and complex flavor profile to develop fully.
On the tongue, black currant reveals itself right up front, with oak, cedar and black pepper assertive through the mid palate and, finally, a bit of earthy mushroom on the long and luxuriant finish. The foresty flavors are wonderfully amplified by voluptuous soft tannins throughout.
If morels and fiddleheads don't happen to be on offer in your neighborhood, this shiraz also will pair very nicely with a four-mushroom lasagna, a straight-ahead roast beef or a classic rack of lamb.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.