Raising the Steaks

Steak and wine have been linked together, forever. Just as a glass of wine is part of any important occasion, so, too, is a flavorful slab of rib-eye, sirloin or tenderloin. But over the past few years, a tantalizing twist has added to this mix, and the idea is spreading. Clever meat farmers have been raising beef on a diet that includes wine. You heard correctly. Wine Fed Beef. I know. The image this conjures is not necessarily pretty. Picture a ton of living steak…walking around with a buzz. Steer clear of that steer…don’t get in its way. But, make sure to get some on your plate. Because, by most accounts, wine-fed steaks are some of the tastiest pieces of meat you’ll ever eat. This whole concept takes the classic combination of steak and wine, and joins them a full stage earlier – right on the feedlot. Turns out that chugging wine, does not produce an angry Angus, but a happier herd. Just ask Janice Ravndahl, whose cattle ranch in Western Canada is attracting lots of attention – and business – because her free-range cows are not only grass fed and hormone-free: For the last 60 days of life, each receives a daily liter of red wine. Ravndahl, who comes from a long line of cattle ranchers, says she decided to give booze to her beef after seeing TV chef Gordon Ramsay plying pigs with beer. Her first idea was to pour some Pilsner for her cows, as supposedly given to highly-prized Kobe and Wagyu beef. But Janice became convinced that beer bloats cattle. So, being surrounded by Canada’s famous Okanagan vineyards, she instead opted for the wine cocktail for her beef, and created Sezmu Meats – named for an ancient Egyptian wine god. She
reports that her cows love feed mixed with wine, and some even lap it up straight from the bucket. According to Ravndahl, the wine-fed animals are more blissful and sociable than others, and seem to moo more to each other.

The resulting meat has brought rave reviews from master chefs at the top restaurants in the area, who say Sezmu beef is tender, sweet, well-marbled, and delicious – simply superior. If you believe the reviews, wine-fed beef could well challenge Japan’s famous Kobe beef, for the title of World’s Best Steak.
A similar thing is happening in Western Australia’s renowned wine region, where they’re raising Wagyu-type cattle on a diet that features a daily mix of
Cabernet and Merlot. And they, too are said to produce some of the best meat that can be found. This movement’s also starting up, we’re told, here at
home in the wine-friendly state of Washington.

However, not everyone is thrilled by boozing bovines. Critics claim the idea of snockered steer is completely un-sustainable. But on the plus side, it is also reported that wine-drinking cattle emit less methane gas than their more sober counterparts, which means less of the dreaded Greenhouse Effect.
And, university studies are now underway to see whether wine-fed meat carries the same heart-healthy benefits conveyed by red wine itself. So, if you ever do chomp down on a tipsy tenderloin, you might be doing yourself a favor. As for Janice Ravndahl, life is good: her meat is now taking Vancouver by storm…and she’s mapping plans to do serious business in the United States. We’re already drooling…here at Grape Encounters Radio.