Game Wine: Bending Branch Souzao

Souzao (pronounced to sound like Billy Batson got punched halfway through changing into Captain Marvel) is a Portuguese grape usually used to make port. The flesh of the grape is nearly as dark as the skin, making for deeply-colored, practically opaque wine. I had never heard of it until visiting Bending Branch Winery in nearby Comfort, Texas, but it has quickly become a favorite of mine.

I'm not much of a wine taster yet (but I know what I like) so describing the taste is difficult for me. The label promises blueberries, blackberries, sweet pipe tobacco, white pepper, smoke, and earthy rhubarb. I readily admit to the wine's complexity, but complexity is the reason we drink wine; what other seemingly simple refreshment contains such nuances? I definitely taste the tobacco, smoke, and white pepper. I enjoy wine best when it reminds me of other vices, like spicy foods and smoking. I have no idea what rhubarb tastes like, so I can't comment on that, but I swear I taste a hint of dark chocolate hiding beneath the berries and sin.

While Bending Branch is local, the grapes are not. They're sourced from Alta Mesa, California, and the Silvaspoons Vineyard, specialists in Portuguese varietals. I'm kind of a reverse snob about California wines, so I'm humbled that I didn't realize this until I grabbed the bottle to spellcheck "souzao." Bending Branch is working on growing more of their own grapes, so I hope they're working on a truly Texas souzao. There's a mineral tartness to Texas grapes that I really like.

(Can you believe the spellchecker on this goofy Touchpad turned "tartness" into "grantees?" WTF, HP? No wonder you had to discount these things to $100. I'm glad mine was a gift. Thanks, James!)

I could easily see Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser sipping this in Quarmall. If playing in the Forgotten Realms, Bending Branch Souzao makes a good substitute for Berduskan Dark or the Blood Wine of Aglarond. It pairs well with Rippers, when your Wild Cards confront Dracula, or similar scenes in Solomon Kane. I could easily see it going well with Necropolis as well -- but I haven't actually read that setting.


  1. I like your association between wines and fictions that you enjoy. I have a similar connection with good cheeses and breads and often imagine one of the old Thieves World covers when I'm eating a particularly good cheese.

    I saw this image today and thought of your post:


    1. That is an awesome (if NSFW) picture! It definitely captures the sense of vice I like on my wIne!

      I also enjoy a good cheese, but I had to give up bread a few years ago when I discovered I have celiac disease. Maybe we can start a "snacks and Savagery" meme.

      Thanks for commenting on a non-Savage Worlds post.


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