Dear The Wine Ladies,

I would love to surprise my husband with a fabulous homemade dinner made with one of his favourite meats bison. I am not too familiar with bison, leaning toward a ribeye and wondered if you have any suggestions on which wines might pair well and/or any ideas on how best to prepare and perhaps even source these meats? I live in a rural area so there’s not too much availability in my neck of the woods.

– Jacqueline

Dear Jacqueline,

We too are fans of the various meat alternatives such as bison, becoming increasingly more popular in restaurants and more available in butcher shops. Bison (often used interchangeably with buffalo meat) is known to be leaner and less dense than beef and is widely accepted as one of the tastiest and healthiest all-natural alternatives to the traditional meats.

When it comes to wine pairing, because bison has considerably less fat than beef, wines with less tannin will make for a better match. WHAT IS TANNIN? Tannins come from the skins, stems, and seeds of the grapes, as well as from the oak barrels the wine may have been aged in. That dry sensation you feel in your mouth when drinking a red wine is due to the tannin in the wine. The more tannic the wine, the more you will pucker up and feel the sensation.

The reason the level of tannins are relevant when it comes to pairing red wines and meat is that tannins cut through the fat of the meat. If one is enjoying a fattier cut, such as a juicy fatty rib eye steak, opt for a big Napa Cabernet for example. As bison is a high protein, lower fat alternative, a better choice would be a red wine with softer tannins such as a Pinot Noir, Malbec, a softer Syrah or perhaps a Tuscan Sangiovese.

As far as availability goes, upon a little investigative work, we learned of a company based in Montreal that markets highquality bison raised without the use of any chemicals, hormones or steroids. Norfolk Bison ships across Canada and offer a wide range of wild game products. There is also one recipe we would like to share with you called the “Double Bison Sirloin; Michael Jordan’s style” that includes a touch of truffle oil and would pair beautifully with a silky Pinot Noir.

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