Hearty red wines for cold weather

By Fred Tasker

Tribune News Service

It’s not that we give up white wines for the season. We don’t. Whites go very nicely with lighter foods, from poached fish to sushi, that we continue to eat all year, whatever the temperature.

But in cool weather there’s some appealing about rich, full-bodied reds. You could call them comfort wines. And they go with the comfort foods that are popular in winter.

Comfort foods are dishes that bring consolation, make us feel good, often recalling childhood memories of mom’s cooking. Often they’re inexpensive. Humble. Pot roast instead of filet mignon. Mac ’n’ cheese rather than lobster risotto. Mashed potatoes, not pommes de terre a la dauphinoise.

Comfort wines are the same. Wines that are generous and full-bodied, without hard, tannic edges or acidic zing. Sometimes their warmth comes from alcohol levels up to 14 or 15 percent. Often inexpensive, although some of the real powerhouses can be pricy.

They run the gamut of hearty red grapes: merlot, zinfandel, syrah, bonarda, Southern Hemisphere cabernet sauvignons.

So put on a warm robe and cuddle up with a bottle of one of these, and don’t come out until the frost is gone and the punkin pie is long since eaten.


▪ 2013 “The One Black” Proprietary Red Wine, by Noble Vines, North Coast (syrah, petite sirah, zinfandel, malbec, cabernet sauvignon): big and dark and rich and hearty, with aromas and flavors of black raspberries, chocolate and cloves and soft tannins; $15.

▪  2013 Mt. Brave Merlot, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, Calif. (95 percent merlot, 5 percent malbec): hearty and bold, with rich aromas and flavors of black cherries and dark chocolate, concentrated and smooth; $75.

▪  2013 Edmeades’ Folly, red blend, by Edmeades Estate Winery, Mendocino County, Calif. (47 percent zinfandel, 23 percent syrah, 15 percent merlot, 15 percent petite sirah): aromas and flavors of blueberries, chocolate and anise, hearty, ripe tannins; $26.

▪ 2014 Alamos “Red Blend,” by Catena Winery, Mendoza, Argentina (65 percent malbec, 16 percent bonarda, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, 9 percent syrah): dark hue, aromas and flavors of black plums and black pepper, spicy and bold, smooth finish; $13.


▪  2015 Don Miguel Gascon Malbec, Mendoza (100 percent malbec): aromas and flavors of black plums and cinnamon, soft tannins, smooth finish; $15.

▪  2009 Isolation Ridge Shiraz, by Frankland Estate, Western Australia (100 percent shiraz): aromas and flavors of black cherries and black pepper, soft tannins, rich and smooth; $40.

▪ 2015 Lindeman’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 45, South Eastern Australia, (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black cherries and chocolate, soft tannins, full-bodied; $6.

▪ 2013 Buried Cane Heartwood Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Wash. (37 percent syrah, 24 percent grenache, 19 percent mourvedre, 13 percent cinsaut, 5 percent counoise, 2 percent viognier): soft yet powerful, with aromas and flavors of red raspberries and cloves, smooth finish; $25.

▪ 2014 ‘The Prisoner” Co. Red Wine, Napa Valley (zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, syrah, charbono): dark hue, rich and concentrated, aromas and flavors of black cherries and licorice, big, ripe tannins; $45.

▪ – 2013 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon, California (79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 19 percent merlot, 2 percent petit verdot): inky hue, rich, hearty flavors of black cherries and anise, big, ripe tannins, long finish; $15.