Rib Shack Red vs. The Beach House Red with Portobello Burgers

It was a simple enough dilemma.
Which wine to pour with our grilled Portobello mushroom burgers?

I debated, going back and forth.

Finally, out of the blue, like a revelation, it hit me.


My decision-making powers amaze me sometimes.

The mushroom burgers were a hearty affair, marinated in olive oil and garlic and rosemary, then grilled till smoky and juicy.  Buns were slathered with guacamole, and the whole thing was topped with onions and tomatoes.

We sat down, my partner and I, and began eating and slurping and going for more napkins.

The Rib Shack Red is a 60% Pinotage, 40% Shirazblend from South Africa’s Western Cape.  It is part of the extensive family of Douglas Green wines, which has been producing wine for over 70 years.


The label markets this wine directly to men, and barbeques, and guys “keep(ing) it simple,” and “phew”, “maybe it’s best to keep it to yourself”.


This is where the trouble began.

I found aromas of smoked meat, smoky oak, and baking spice with flavors of ripe sweet black cherry and cola, Dr. Pepper actually, with more smoked meat mid-palate with a strong spicy finish.  Definitely a grilling-meat kind of wine.

Jeff found cola aromas along with sweet barbeque sauce and strong smoky, peppery flavors and dark berry fruits.

The sweet cola flavors were not compatible with the mushroom and guacamole for me, but Jeff thought the smoky pepper was a great combination with the burger.

Why not further complicate things?  The Beach House was still on the table. 

The Beach House is a red blend, also from the Douglas Green portfolio, also from the Western Cape of South Africa.  This blend is 75% Shiraz, with 20% Mourvedre and 5% Viognier.  The marketing on this label is all about relaxing and campfires and “snacks at sundown”.  Not so much a guy thing.


I found aromas of plum and black pepper with smoke and an earthy component.   The flavors are easy and drinkable with black cherry and soft plum, smoke and some nice spice on the finish.  The palate is soft but the finish is supported by gentle tannins.  That earthy character was a nice complement to the mushroom, and the smoke and spice were good partners with the burger as well.  There was no sweet cola note to fight with the burger flavors.  This was definitely my preference with the burger.

Jeff found bright candied fruit and tobacco aromas in the Beach House wine, which put him off a bit, followed by sweet cherry front palate and lots of spice on the finish.  He certainly preferred the strong pepper and meaty/smoky character of the Rib Shack with his mushroom burger.

So interesting how two palates can read a wine so differently from each other.  And also of interest is our split along the divergent marketing paths of these wines.

The good news, we were both happy with our own wine choices.


The moral of the story is… Always go with your revelations.  Opening two bottles is a good thing.


About the author: Sue Navratil

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