So Africa’s Organic Reyneke Syrah and Chenin Blanc with Instant Pot Persian Lamb Shanks #WinePW

Success often comes at a price, but at Reyneke, it’s important that their success does not cost the earth or people. So says Johan Reyneke. Instead, the goal of Reyneke wines is for both planet and people to flourish.

To achieve this goal, Reyneke ONLY produces organic and biodynamic wines– wines that are grown, not made. As organic farmers first, they do not use herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers, and they seek sustainability on the farm and avoid additives in the winery.

“We believe there’s a lot to be said for the way winemaking use to be,” they say on their website. “There were no chemicals, no “ technological advancements” that made the process a process and natural balance was more important than balance sheets. Some people dismiss it as old – fashioned nostalgia, but we like to think of it as ancient wisdom. And we embrace it as much as we can. Not just because it’s better for the earth, but because it makes for better wine.”

Their organic “Vinehugger” line is their entry level wine at $15 a bottle. Grapes are grown on lower elevations and offer more accessibility and fruit.


Then there’s a line of certified biodynamic wines, from grapes where vineyards go beyond organic to be regenerative and self-sufficient with organic systems in place on the farm to work synergistically with assistance from biodynamic preparations. At Reyneke, the result is, with few external inputs, the vines “become quite singular in their expression… and have a real sense of place.” They were the first farm to earn biodynamic certification in South Africa.

In addition to taking care of the planet with these practices, Reyneke takes care of their people. For 20 years, Reyneke has sought to address the inequities created by the system of apartheid that impacted South Africa for so long by providing affordable housing, education for workers’ children, retirement benefits, and more through their “Cornerstone” program; the name is derived from the fact that their workers are the cornerstone of their business.

Read more about some of the recent challenges faced by the South African wine industry. 

Reyneke Organic Wines
  • Vinehugger Organic Red 2018
  • Vinehugger Organic White 2018 
  • Biodynamic Syrah 2017 
  • Biodynamic Chenin Blanc 2018

If you’re a fan of organic and biodynamic wines, check out this exciting news!

Middle Eastern inspired feast paired with Reyneke wines from South Africa


  • Sue’s homemade hummus with pine nuts
  • Trader Joe’s Spanakopita 
  • Trader Joe’s Cheese Spiral 
  • purchased felafel 
  • Green Olives
  • Middle Eastern Pilaf (Source)
  • Instant Pot Persian Spiced Lamb Shanks (see recipe below)

All of the seasonings went so well with all of the wines. Such a lovely richness of flavor between all four wines and the menu, and we loved how all of these wines are made with organic grapes.

Find a selection of South African wines with regionally inspired food pairings here.

Vinegugger organic white wine

2018 Reyneke  Vinehugger White 
ABV 13.0% 
SRP $17

While Chenin Blanc may have originated in France, over 50% of the Chenin Blanc vineyards worldwide are found in South Africa. Surprisingly, Chenin Blanc has fallen out of favor and is not that well-known in the US any more which is a shame. 

is now home to  It’s a wine that’s hard not to love—versatile in style and able to pair with a variety of dishes from meats to cheeses to vegetarian. Not only is Reyneke Vinehugger White a food-friendly wine, it’s an environmentally friendly one too. The farm is the first farm in South Africa to achieve certification by Demeter International, the largest and most widely acknowledged biodynamic accreditation body in the world. This 100% Chenin Blanc wine is sourced from vineyards just 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. With apricot and white peach on the nose, notes of mandarin peel and honey-comb, with a fresh, vibrant palate, it’s a classic Chenin Blanc.

This wine was at cellar temperature when we first started tasting, but I wanted it a bit cooler. A great wine list wine, by the bottle or the glass, because it’s Interesting and can pair with a variety of foods.

Color: Straw, light gold

Aroma: Honeysuckle, jalapeno jelly, dry dessert dirt, fennel, pear, roses, rose water

Palate: Baked pear and crossant, cardamon, green chili and red chili on the finish. chili pepper flakes, texturally interesting.  there is a slick mouthfeel, with lovely acidity and interesting spice. 

Pairing: Falafel and hummus makes the wine refreshing and crisp. Great with the spanakopita. This easy drinking white love meditarnian food. OMG the rice on its own was so wonderfully flavorful, the wine takes it to another level. It becomes a $30 meal. There isn’t any sugar in the meal, but the spices and the dried fruit add a sweetness to the dish that marries so well with the wine. 

Reyneke Chenin Blanc

2018 Reyneke Biodynamic Chenin Blanc
ABV 13% 
SRP $34

Color: Lemon yellow, there is a bit of color in the glass. 

Aroma: The nose on this wine is so interesting, ripe pear, baking spice, baked apple, florals, rose. For Sue the nose was very evasive, while I found it to be quite seductive. 

Palate: The palate for Sue was much more interesting than the nose. For me the palate delivered more of the nose, roasted fruit with baking spices. Sue found the mouthfeel to be wonderful. I agreed on the mouthfeel, and loved the flavor, but the finish was outstanding to me. The mouthfeel is slick and viscous, the flavor is roasted pears and apples with baking spices. It is not that simple, just one element. The finish is herbal and clean (clean because of the balanced acidity) the finish lingers is fresh, fresh, fresh. 

Pairing: Fantastic with the cheese spiral, but the spinach in the spanakopita was even better. The creamy richness and herbs of the hummus was so fantastic with the wine. The meal made the wine so sweet, almost like a dessert wine. The spices, oh the spices in the roast lamb make this wine so very amazing. 

Vinehugger Red

2018  Reyneke Vinehugger Red
ABV 13% 
SRP $15

A blend of 85% Shiraz and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, the palate is well-balanced and structured, with juicy fresh tannins and a dry finish.
Distinct notes of red fruit and spice on the palate

We found ourselves wanting to taste this wine next to a pilotage. 

Color: Ruby with a fushia rim

Aroma: Vegetal, herbal, fruit, florals, it is all there. The nose of South African cooking. Many different elements going on at the same time. Earthy turmeric, allspice, curry, coconut milk, green spices and red spice, jalapeno and red chili pepper, licorice vine. When you finally get to the fruit it is plum, fresh plum, plum skin, a bit of smokiness, campfire or a home cooking fire and a bit of tobacco. 

Palate: Rich spicy palate, earth, dried herbs dried eucptalyptus, potpouri, mineral earth, dried cherries, bay, oregano, marjoram,  wonderful texture on the palate. Mole finish chocolate and chili, making us want to have mole with this wine. 

Pairing: Great with the cheese spiral, nice with the spinach in the spanakopita. We found it to be the best with our falafel and hummus. It brings out the fruit in the wine and the richness and herbs in the wine. It was an unexpected wow pairing. This wine is so good with this food. It is like chocolate and spice. Did I say mole? because I really want mole with this wine. This would be a fun wine for Christmas Eve tamales with mole sauce or mole chicken making it a terrific wine for a restaurant that specializes in mole sauce.

Reyneke Syrah

2017 Reyneke Biodynamic Syrah
ABV 13.5% 
SRP $29

As someone who loves words, I love the bottle with the elegant script inscribed.

Color: Richer in color, dense ruby with a dusty rose rim. 

Aroma: Cherry, blueberry, chaparral, dried sage

Palate: Dry chaparral, this is a very dry Syrah, lots of herbs, tobacco, black tea and balsamic, big tannins, (was it whole cluster? or carbonic masaration). 

Pairing: Great with the spinach in the spanakopita. Good with the greek cheese spiral roll. The spices in the flafal went well with the wine. Loves the cumin in the hummus. This is the wine that we have loved the most, but unfortunately  has been the one we have written the least about because it was the last wine on the list. However, all of the food was so spectacular with the wine.l the herbs and spices in the rice and the stew was fantastic. 

Instant Pot Persian Spiced Lamb Shanks 
Sue’s adaptation from here for the Instant Pot
6 servings


  • 4-5  lamb shanks, about  4 pounds
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried rosebuds
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron
  • 3 teaspoons rosewater
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • zest of 1 fresh lime
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint plus whole leaves for garnish


  1. Trim any excess fat from lamb shanks and season with salt.
  2. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, rosebuds, black pepper, and turmeric. Sprinkle evenly over shanks and rub into meat. Let sit at room temperature one hour or more, or refrigerate overnight, then bring to room temperature.
  3. In the Instant Pot, heat 1/2″ oil, brown shanks, remove, set aside, and remove excess oil.
  4. Steep saffron with lime juice and rosewater in 1/2 cup warm water for 10 minutes. 
  5. Saute chopped onion in oil in Instant Pot until soft.
  6. Add lime zest, orange zest, thyme sprigs and bay leaves to Instant Pot.
  7. Stir in saffron mixture to Instant Pot.
  8. Lay in the lamb shanks and add the broth.
  9. Cooked on manual high pressure for 70 minutes.
  10. Remove lamb shanks.
  11. Strain braising juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  12. Skim fat, then taste and add salt if necessary. Reheat and reduce as desired, then pour over lamb shanks.
  13. Combine parsley, mint and reserved orange zest and sprinkle over top.
  14. Serve on a bed of Basmati rice (plain, with peas, or prepared as a pilaf with Middle Eastern seasonings, almonds, and cranberries).
  15. Store leftover meat in leftover broth; reheat. Will keep and develop flavors for several days. Can be made in advance. 

Find more Middle Eastern food and wine pairings, check out this article about Yarden Wines from Israel in The Eternal Light Shines in Galilee: Yarden’s Merlot, Pinot Gris with Acorn Squash Couscous, Tangerine Feta Spring Salad  as well as these articles from members of the WinePW crew. 



Curious about more Middle Eastern food and wine ideas? Check out these articles on the topic as well as our 8am twitter chat:

  • 5/8/21 11:00 a.m. ET  
  • Welcome to the #WinePW chat on MiddleEastern Food and Wine Pairings! Introduce yourself, and where you are tweeting from. Share a link to your blog if applicable.
  • 5/8/21 11:05 a.m. ET
  • Q1 So we are talking about MiddleEastern Food and Wine Pairings for today’s #WinePW. Are you a fan of MiddleEastern Cuisine?  Have you tried the wines from this area before?
  • 5/8/21 11:10 a.m. ET 
  • Q2 Where did your wine come from?  Were you able to source wine from the MiddleEast? #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:15 a.m. ET 
  • Q3 Did you pair your wines with a dish or dishes? What did you make? Share a link to your recipe if you posted one! #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:20 a.m. ET 
  • Q4 Have you tried MiddleEastern wines from locations other than the one you chose for today’s event? How did it compare? Similarities? Differences? #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:25 a.m. ET 
  • Q5 Were the grapes used for the wine you chose unique to the MiddleEast?  #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:30 a.m. ET 
  • Q6 Was the wine you chose food friendly?  Would you enjoy a glass without a food pairing?  #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:35 a.m. ET 
  • Q7 Some of us chose to pair MiddleEastern foods with wines from elsewhere and/or MiddleEastern wines with food from elsewhere. Please chime in on those pairings. #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 11:40 a.m. ET 
  • Q8 Next month we are exploring Wine Pairings for Hard to Pair Foods hosted by @linda_lbwcsw.  What foods do you find hard to pair?
  • 5/8/21 11:45 a.m. ET 
  • Shout out to the #WinePW crew who joined in today’s event.  I hope you had fun exploring MiddleEastern Food and Wine Pairings with me.
  • 5/8/21 11:50 a.m. ET 
  • Q9 #WinePW  Any final thoughts about MiddleEastern Food and Wine Pairings?  Did you discover anything new about this area and culture?
  • 5/8/21 11:55 a.m. ET 
  • Q10 Did you know which part of the MiddleEast you wanted to explore today?  Are there other countries in the Middle East that you have or want to explore? #WinePW
  • 5/8/21 12:00 p.m. ET 
  • Thanks for joining host @WendyKlik for the May  #WinePW  chat as we talked about MiddleEastern Food and Wine Pairings! Looking forward to seeing you all again at the next event. 

12 thoughts on “So Africa’s Organic Reyneke Syrah and Chenin Blanc with Instant Pot Persian Lamb Shanks #WinePW

  1. I loved learning about their wines and their practices and about their cornerstone program. That is impressive and makes me want to buy the wines. Sue’s dishes are amazing as always. What a feast you all share. Cheers to you, Susannah

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful spread! The Lamb and rice dish looks so flavorful and delicious. Chenin Blanc seems like a great choice for the flavors of the food, and I’m a big Syrah fan so definitely sold there. I enjoyed learning about Reyneke’s practice too!

    Liked by 1 person

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