As you snuggle in front of a fireplace this winter, there are great wine options that will make you as warm on the inside as the fire will on the outside.
My favorite varietals to curl up in front of the fireplace are Grenache or Garnacha, Syrah or Shiraz, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I choose these grapes because Grenache, Syrah, and Zinfandel often have aromas and tastes of spices while a great Cabernet Sauvignon is my comfort wine of choice.
The formal name is Grenache Noir, but in the U.S., we call it Grenache while Spain refers to this grape as Garnacha. Most believe the origin of this grape is the Spanish Aragon region, but another theory suggests the original home was in Sardinia when the Spanish kingdom of Aragon ruled the island during the 14th and 15th centuries.
My choice is the 2014 Honoro Vera Garnacha from Spain. The lady on the label is alluring, but the taste is even better. This wine is easy to drink with a fruitful taste that isn’t sweet. With aromas of cherry and blackberry and tastes of plums and currents, this wine is well balanced with a nice finish and touch of pepper all for a great value at $9.99.
Syrah and Shiraz are also the same grape, but sometimes used to differentiate styles of wine. Old world style would be called Syrah and new world style is Shiraz. This is generally a medium to full bodied bold and spicy wine. My current favorite is by Mollydooker 2013, The Boxer Shiraz from Australia. Available for $27.99 at your premium Fine Wine and Good Spirits. This wine is just comfort from the first sip. You will first taste cherry, red berries, and plum flavors that develop into a spice, licorice, chocolate, and cream. This wine will wow you with its’ soft tannins and will make you go for a second glass or maybe even finish the whole bottle. Buy several bottles and hide them just for you, it is that good you won’t want to share.
Zinfandel is usually lighter in color than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but the moderate tannins and high acidity make it taste bolder. High sugar content of the grape usually relates to a higher alcohol content. Cakebread Cellars 2012 Zinfandel has aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry and plum. On the palate, you will taste the same fruits. Available for $32, the spice and chocolate finish makes you enjoy that fireplace a bit longer. If you enjoy Zinfandel, try the Italian cousin called Primitivo.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most recognized grape and one I enjoy often, especially near a fireplace. Michael David Winery in Lodi, California is making an interesting Cabernet called Freakshow. Robert Parker awarded this wine 90 points. The 2012 vintage has a deep purple color with hints of cassis, licorice, and spice. The nicely balanced pomegranate with smokey oak makes this a definite comfort wine. This is currently on sale for $18.99. I would say the Freak is the small amount of Petit Syrah and the show is the entire smell and taste experience.
Pair any of these wines with a hearty chili, brisket on the fire pit, or a great lasagna. Drink, enjoy and repeat.