Shiraz always makes me a little sad. A couple of years ago I dropped a rare bottle (Henschke Mount Edelstone 1999) that belonged to my Australian brother-in-law—a wedding gift from his best friend, no less—while awkwardly exiting his car. I can still see the crime scene: ruby-colored liquid pouring out onto the sidewalk, splattering my face and clothes. Shards of glass breaking into smaller pieces as they hit the hard pavement. When I imagine it, a languid, strings-heavy rendition of Waltzing Matilda plays in the background, but I may have invented that bit.
But plush, easy-going shirazes should make everyone else happy. Especially when they’re going for $7.99 at QFC, as is the case with the 2004 Red Diamond shiraz—a Washington-made wine that’s already a bargain at the full price of $10.99. (Foil helmet-clad conspiracy theorists, beware: you need one of those purchase-tracking advantage cards to get the discount.)
You probably know that shiraz is just the Aussie name for the wine variety made from syrah grapes. I presume that Patterson-based Red Diamond labeled the bottle "shiraz" instead of "syrah" on account of the 3 percent viognier the winemaker tossed in for extra spice, a blending technique often used down under. In any case it’s a really good weekday bottle, unobtrusive and very friendly to pizza and spicy Mexican and Cajun dishes. It won’t replace a 99 Henschke (Nothing will, I’ve found. Two years later and the guilt trips keep coming.) but it might just make your Monday.
Read a previous installment of Cheap Wine for Weeknights about vinho verde.