2016-01-01 / Wine Notes

Hearty Winter Reds

Robert D. Richards, CSW

When the temperatures plummet, we all look for ways to keep warm. The fuzzy blanket and heavy woolen sweater are great for keeping our “outsides” warm, but what about the “insides”? That’s a good time to reach for a hearty red wine — that bold display of flavors that gives as much texture as taste. Although Cabernet Sau­vignon and Merlot are familiar standbys for the job, a host of other reds may awaken your palate in new ways and heighten your senses — all the while keeping you warm during these long winter months.

Petite Sirah, for instance, is a wine that, quite frank­ly, doesn’t live up to its name. It is anything but petite. Petite Sirah is a bold, inky wine (the color of the grape is practically black) that can be peppery or spicy while also displaying a fruit-forward character. Although it is often used as a blending wine, the Livermore, Calif., winery Concannon Vineyard began bottling it as its own varietal more than 50 years ago. The good news is Concannon still produces the wine as a varietal, and it’s available at the Pennsylvania state stores.

Zinfandel and its relative, the Italian grape Primiti­vo, are also hearty bets for huddling around the hearth. Once thought to be an American original, DNA test­ing proved that Zins are related to an Italian varietal that likely made its way from Croatia to Austria to, of all places, Massachusetts. It’s a long story for another day. Suffice it to say, Zins are plentiful in the United States, with a healthy current supply in the state store.

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