Pete Ste­wart chooses the drinks to ac­com­pany Shirley’s recipes:

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - FOOD & DRINK - Pete Ste­wart is Glas­gow di­rec­tor of In­ver­ar­ity One to One, 185a Bath Street, Glas­gow (0141 221 5121)­ver­ar­

WITH rab­bit be­ing a milder game meat, my go-to wine match is nor­mally a Pinot Noir from Mer­curey in Bur­gundy’s Cote Chalon­naise. The area is fa­mous for mak­ing el­e­gant whites and re­ally rus­tic, earthy reds which are ideal with rab­bit stew. How­ever, as Shirley has gone for a bunny curry, we need to raise the stakes to get the per­fect match. The wine you’re look­ing for should have more body than a Pinot Noir and ide­ally a bit of spice in the glass to cope with the curry.

You could pick a re­ally nice Pino­tage from South Africa. Pino­tage was a grape cre­ated in 1925 by Pro­fes­sor Perold when he crossed Pinot Noir with Cin­sault (known lo­cally as Her­mitage, hence the name). He hoped to har­ness the ele­gance and flavour of the Pinot Noir with the har­di­ness of the Cin­sault, and he cer­tainly came up with a unique new grape. Although Pino­tage is linked in­trin­si­cally to South Africa, some of the wine­mak­ers refuse to plant it, con­sid­er­ing it to be a sub-stan­dard va­ri­ety. In­deed, over the years Pino­tage has suf­fered from a bit of bad press with some peo­ple in the trade dis­miss­ing it be­cause it’s not one of the no­ble French grapes. You could ar­gue that it is, in fact, two of the no­ble French grapes, and I think the good ex­am­ples from pro­duc­ers such as Kanonkop are ex­cel­lent. They also work re­ally well with a full-flavoured rab­bit dish.

Kanonkop Es­tate Black La­bel Pino­tage 2013 (Ma­jes­tic, £130). This is a mas­sive step up from their “stan­dard” re­lease (which comes in around £30). The grapes that go into the Black La­bel come from bush vines planted in the 1950s, and the wine sees 18 months in new French oak bar­rels be­fore re­lease. At £130 per bot­tle, it’s ar­guably not an ev­ery­day wine but if you’re a fan of the style you’d be hard-pressed to find a bet­ter one.

If you’d pre­fer some­thing un­der the £100 mark, try a bot­tle of the Bey­er­skloof Re­serve Pino­tage 2016 (Ma­jes­tic, £10.99). This is a spicy wee mon­ster weigh­ing in at 14% ABV (al­co­hol by vol­ume) and is ideal with Shirley’s rab­bit curry.

You’ll also find good bot­tles of “house” Pino­tage around the £7 mark in your lo­cal wine em­po­rium. Th­ese tend to be good, ev­ery­day glug­gers with de­cent up­front fruit but with­out the leath­ery, bon­fire com­plex­ity of their more ex­pen­sive peers. They high­light the ver­sa­til­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the grape with­out overly wor­ry­ing your wal­let.

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