Rancher Janice Ravndahl of Saskatchewan, Canada, may have just started a new trend with her product line of Sezmu beef. It's a hit with local Canadian chefs, restaurant guests, home cooks... and cows, too.
Ravndahl says she was inspired to try a new cattle feeding approach by watching Gordon Ramsay's "The F Word" as Ramsay let a pig taste a sample of beer. As a fifth-generation cattle rancher, she realized she wanted to try feeding her livestock a relaxing beverage as well. And she thought, "why not wine?"
Her initial experiment involved five Angus cows to which a liter of Okanagan red wine was fed daily. As the experiment progressed, Ravndahl noticed that some cows preferred to have the wine mixed in with their feed, while others got used to their new refreshment and wanted it "straight-up." In fact, she said it improved the cows' dispositions in general.
"Once they have it, they're happy to have it again. They moo at one another a little more and seem more relaxed. There are a few that lap it up out of the pail. After they've had it for a while, when they see us coming with the pitchers, they don't run, but they come faster than usual," said Ravndahl.
The experiment led to the creation of Sezmu Meats, a British Columbian company that specializes in wine-fed beef. The company claims that their natural, hormone-free beef "is exceptionally well marbled, has a very distinct beef flavor, improved color, and longer shelf life than traditional beef. The wine makes all the difference."
Many Canadian chefs agree. Says Mission Hill Winery chef Michael Allemeier, "Red wine and beef are natural pairing partners to begin with. Why not in the finishing program? I found the meat to have a wonderful texture -- one of the benefits of dry-aging -- but the aroma and flavor are what truly impressed me."
Sezmu says they are currently available in British Columbia but will be expanding to other markets soon.