Not to say that I don’t drink red and white wines year around, but there is something nostalgic about red wines this time of year. Here are a few recommendations if you are looking for a wine to cozy up with during these cold winter months.
Syrah. Dark in color and bold in flavor. The profile of a Syrah is inviting in both the aromas and mouthful. This is an eclectic variety depending on what wine region it is from. With a New World Syrah, you are bound to get a lot of black fruit, blueberry, sweet tobacco, some licorice, cloves and a peppery finish. With an Old World Syrah, you will find similarities but will also get smoky, meaty, graphite and herbal notes. Syrah is often blended with other varietals, some of my favorite blends comes from Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, which is considered a classic Côtes du Rhône blend.
Zinfandel. Another bold red, yet more fruit forward with jammy characteristics. In Italy it is referred to as Primitivo, which means “early ripener.” Zinfandel is known for uneven ripening, so the bunches are left on the vine to fully ripen. This naturally means the berries have a higher level of sugar, in return making a wine higher in alcohol. As with Syrah this variety exhibits a smokiness, dark fruit plus eccentric spices that pairs nicely with Arabic cuisine and BBQ dishes. If the grape is grown in a cool climate versus warm climate, you may find a lighter style with juicy red fruit flavors, including strawberry and raspberry.
Pinot Noir. A light-bodied red wine that rarely disappoints. The balance between the red fruit, earthiness and spice, makes it a versatile wine that pairs with an assortment of dishes…particularly chicken, pork and mushrooms due to its high acidity and low tannins. This wine is also a very popular option for Thanksgiving dinner. Pinot Noir is a finicky grape and prefers a cooler climate, the very reason it is often planted near coastal regions.
Brunello di Montalcino. This is one of Italy’s most popular and enamored wines…one of my favorites right now! Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is part of Southern Tuscany and is exclusively made from the Sangiovese Grosso grape. These vineyards are at a lower altitude than those in the north, attributing to a warmer climate but benefit from the maritime breezes from the south-west that assist in moderating the temperatures. How does this affect the wine? It contributes to a more intense, full-bodied red wine. The wines are vibrant, the red fruit is front and center with high acidity…a perfect pairing for spicey foods.
Winter shouldn’t be dull just because of the temperatures outside. Brighten up the season with any one of these wines. Is there a specific red wine you reach for this time of year? Share your favorites in the comments below, I’m always looking to add to my list. Cheers!