The Wining and Dining of Canadian Cattle

The Wining and Dining of Canadian Cattle

Food & Drink

The Wining and Dining of Canadian Cattle

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By Cari Martens

Cattle ranchers in British Columbia have been feeding red wine from the Canadian province to their beef cattle to enhance the quality of the meat.

For about the last year, Janice Ravndahl, operator of Sezmu Meats of West Kelowna, B.C., has fed a daily liter of red wine to her Angus beef cows during the final 90 days of their lives.

The practice has recently caught the attention of Canada’s federal meat inspectors, who don’t seem too keen on the idea.

Ravndahl sells wine-tweaked cuts of Angus beef throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Several restaurants in the area serve the wine-fed beef.

The aged wine makes the cows happy (well, yeah), according to Ms. Ravndahl. But she says the cows do not get drunk. She spoke with Ian Bailey, a reporter for the Globe and Mail. ‘By no means are we getting the animals drunk,’ she said. ‘They weigh a thousand pounds. It’s not a lot of alcohol for them.’

Ravndahl claims wine-fed cattle yield redder cuts of beef with a ‘slightly sweet’ taste. The meat also has a more distinctive beef aroma—with a bit of a wine scent that’s noticeable when you first open the package, but doesn’t linger.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently called Ravndahl to express its concern over the cattle wining and dining, but has yet to take any steps to stop her. In fact, on the Sezmu Meats Web site, it claims its wine-fed beef is CSIA-approved.

John Church, cattle research chair at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops is hoping to do some research on the effects of wine-fed cattle. He notes that the chemicals in wine could reduce methane—a greenhouse gas—and might also reduce e-coli in the cows.

Quoted in Bailey’s article, Church said, ‘To me, it just seems like such a natural fit. We have some of the best wines in B.C. Let’s use this resource we have here to produce the best beef in B.C.’

Ravndahl said she was inspired to try the wine experiment after watching an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word in which he fed beer to some pigs. She didn’t think beer’s carbonation would be good for the cows, so she tried the red wine.

At first the cows were given the wine ‘neat’ or straight up, but now it’s mixed with feed.

Well, I always thought red wine paired well with beef.

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