Wines to chainsaw and chop wood by.

I subscribe to the thought that a household can’t have too much firewood on hand. Fortunately my neighbour, an aborist , also thinks the same. As soon as one pile of logs has been sawn and chopped to size, another pile re-appears overnight. Rumpelstiltskin like.

Despite it being February and the height of summer, cooler weather never seems to be too far away – especially in the hills when the morning Kawarau river mist rolls down the valley.


Should you need reminding about the need for firewood, there is a beautiful book that captures the rhythmic seasonal craft of a woodpile. Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting  looks to be a wonderful fireside read detailing the selection, felling, sawing, chopping, stacking and burning logs. Axes, splitters and saws are also comprehensively covered but to my mind there is a new chapter to be written. We all know that a glass of wine is mandatory to really enjoy a fire but the missing link here is matching a wine with the activity of sawing, chopping and stacking.

For health and safety reasons it is important to note that drinking wine and operating machinery with fast moving parts or wielding tools with sharp edges is not a good idea. I  can personally attest that turning up to the ED with a firewood related injury is traumatic enough without having to explain the circumstances of being under the influence as well.

The sharp-of-eye will have seen that the saw of choice is a Stihl MS370 with a 20″ bar. 15 years of going strong and likely to be an inheritance item should the adverts be based in truth.

After breathing in a couple of hours worth of wood-chip, sawdust, two stroke exhaust and bar oil, turn off the chainsaw and enjoy a glass of Syrah. I’ve found that some Waiheke Syrahs have that wonderful dusty road minerality on the nose with cedar resin and cigar smoke notes. On the palate you’ll need a good balance of acidity and fruit to offset the extra ingestion of wood-chip and bark tannins. Rich dark fruit with white pepper and spice finish will also be recuperative and calming after the saw session. Syrah is also a wonderful accompaniment to chocolate, should you be looking for a post-cutting rounds treat. A nice example of this style of Syrah is the Dunleavy ‘The Grafter’.

Of course the hard work starts with the log splitting. Engage the core, sight the target grain, relax the shoulders and fast hands should result in that satisfying thwock as the log falls neatly in half. Well that is the objective…

Old school splitter and axe are the way to go with the nice straight grain logs but on occasion the job requires the mechanical assistance of a log-splitter. In the instance that you are reduced to the old school manual work, I’m a firm believer in nature’s own sports drink as a reviver. A well-crafted dry of or off-dry Riesling with lemon/lime notes, refreshing acidity and long finish is a great way to replenish the spirit and body. A very good example of this would look to be the Archangel Riesling – congrats to the Archangel team with the latest Cuisine tasting results.

When it comes to stacking the firewood, there is an entire science and technique that eclipses my modest efforts so I won’t post images of the firewood stack at our place. Once stacked and drying nicely, it is entirely appropriate to stand back and survey the results of all your hard work. The wine match with this one? Well frankly, that wine is a beer…..



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