Odd Pair: Grape Salad and Shiraz

This week's Odd Pair was truly an accident. The idea was to pair a different Shiraz that some friends had been raving about with a bleu cheese potato salad. But after visiting several stores and leaving without either the wine or the food, I realized I needed to make a quick adjustment. Mollydooker "The Boxer" 2009 Shiraz from South Australia happened to be on special at Central Market ($18), and the wine specialists there both highly recommended it. Though I wasn't sure whether they really liked the bottle or were simply trying to push the product off the shelves, I decided to try it. I was told that it was a hefty wine with a serious punch to it (no pun intended).

With a robust, tart wine like this, I decided to substitute the potatoes for some succulent grapes, both green and red, which I blended with a strong bleu cheese and toasted walnuts to create a sort of grape salad. The salad had strong flavors that stood up nicely to the full bodied Shiraz. The sweetness of the grapes plus the salty pungency of the cheese made a lovely complement to the mouth-puckering wine, which was 16 percent alcohol. It was an elegant and tasty combination that would work exceptionally well as the first course at any dinner party.

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