Local wine pro Christine Sjostrom told me about this really tasty wine she was hooked on, calling it honeyed and peach-y, but with a refreshing crispness.
She described it to me on a sweltering, 100-degree August day when I was anxious for a little refreshment myself. She then told me it was a South African wine from the Bukettraube grape.
Never heard of it, but when Christine recommends something, every wine drinker in the vicinity listens.
In doing a little research, the few sources that mentioned this grape gave it only a line or two. Oz Clark, in his extraordinary “Encyclopedia of Grapes,” said, “There is some of this thin, light, acidic, rather ordinary wine in South Africa.”
Not exactly a resounding endorsement, but the lack of information increased my interest in this variety.
As you might expect from the name, the grape has Germanic origins. Buket means, roughly, bouquet, and traube means cluster of grapes. One whiff, and you can see why the word bouquet is in the name. It’s aromatic, with both ripe fruit and floral notes.
While not actually sweet, the wine has a pleasing ripeness and yet an underlying tartness, almost like pink grapefruit glazed with honey. It’s reminiscent of a Muscat or a Viognier, an interesting sip on a hot summer day. While it’s not a wine that you’ll likely stock up on for aging in the cellar, it’s a bit like summer in a glass – big, full of flavors, and gone all too soon.
In class with a group of wine students, we challenged ourselves to find some good food pairings. It was excellent with blue cheese, the saltiness of the cheese working beautifully with the slight sweetness of the wine. We liked it a great deal with spicy Asian-style noodles, as well as a chipotle-glazed salmon, as the wine’s fruity roundness seemed to both hold up to and complement spicy, complex flavors.
But the best part was the kick we all got out of trying, and enjoying, something completely new. It’s definitely not widely available or easy to find, which might be part of the charm.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor of at Johnson & Wales University. Email: mailto:email@example.com.