Red wine and dark chocolate is one of our favorite pairings. In L'Oustalet, a nonvintage Rhone blend of organically grown syrah, grenache and mourvedre with a bit of merlot for roundness, the two tastes marry happily. Open it a half-hour or so before serving and the charming combination is particularly apparent.
The Perrin family, pioneers of organic growing in France, vinify and age this yummy table wine exclusively in stainless steel to preserve its fresh appeal. It works beautifully. Look for it at wine-savvy markets for about $12.
Bittersweet dark chocolate underlies the wine from first sniff through a medium-long juicy finish. On the nose, smoke and dark fruit predominate, but the hint of chocolate is there. On the tongue, fig, plum, smoke and dark fruits, especially blackberry, provide the top notes with chocolate curling sinuously around the edges. Soft tannins contribute to a lush, round mouthfeel that persists through a satisfying finish.
Pair this full-bodied red with pan-sauteed ribeye steak or a rich beef stroganoff for main courses or with pungent ripe cheeses for a finishing course.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.