The Wines of Winter

Recommendations Big, Red 
and Geographically Diverse

Welcome to 2018!

Although I drink year-round (who are we kidding? I drink week-round, sometimes day-round), drinking in the wintertime seems somehow more satisfying. Cold weather calls for hardy wines, and hardy wines are my second favorite “hardy” thing (shout-out to Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy). But unlike many ’70s TV shows, my wine picks for winter can be consumed now or cellared and enjoyed later. Heck, one of them can even be opened, enjoyed, left on the table overnight and enjoyed again during/for brunch. Ah, brunch…many people think it’s a combination of the words “breakfast” and “lunch,” but it actually comes from the Latin “bibens” and “dies” which, loosely translated, means “socially acceptable day drinking.”

My recommended wines for winter are all big, red and geographically diverse. I like them for different reasons, but you may find one suits your tastes a little better than another. The first two are dry, while the last replaces or enhances dessert.

The first is from California and one of my new favorite wineries, Field Recordings. Andrew Jones, the winemaker there, is known for seeking out great grapes from small vineyards and turning them into excellent wines. This one is a Cabernet Franc and is simply called “Franc.” Cabernet Franc is often underappreciated compared to its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon (actually a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc). Cab Franc is lighter and is sometimes mixed with other grapes to form Bordeaux or a red blend. Tannins tend to be a bit less prevalent on a Cab Franc and acidity is slightly muted compared to Cab Sauv, but nobody would mistake this wine for “thin” or an “easy swallow.”

By the way, if you ever hear a wine rep, sommelier or other expert describe a wine as an “easy swallow,” that usually means it sucks. Trust me. I’ve had lots of “easy swallows” in my life. Not to imply you want a “hard swallow,” either (that’s not actually a thing), but when looking for a good cold-weather wine, I’d suggest something described as “rich” or as having a “full mouthfeel.” As an aside to my aside (a side-by-side aside? <groan>), I always hated the word “mouthfeel,” it sounds both pretentious and slightly dirty. Nonetheless, I use it here because that’s the word that works best to make my point. My apologies for all the “swallowing” and “mouthfeeling.” I hope, dear reader, you do not decide I am being too familiar or too crass.

Now let’s move from California to Argentina with my second recommendation, Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec. This one is rich and has a full mouthfeel (yeah, I did just do that). The Malbec grape started in France but is now better known as the primary grape grown, consumed and exported from Mendoza, Argentina. Malbecs have really come into their own in the last few years, and I’ve been happy to add many new ones to our wine room at Moore Liquor. This particular wine is one of my favorites because it showcases the grapes from that region nearly perfectly. Trivento ages this Malbec in French Oak for a full year and them allows it to age another year before shipping. This wine is both dry and fruity with lots of dark berry flavors and some subtle hints of more interesting tastes that come from where it’s grown and how it’s made.

My final recommendation comes from Portugal and, no surprise, it’s a Port. Ports are fortified wines, meaning alcohol (usually wine brandy) is added during the fermentation process. This gives Port a higher alcohol content, a longer shelf live and a very interesting taste. I’m suggesting Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port because it is of consistently good quality. If you’ve never tried Port, be ready for a new wine experience. Ports are dessert wines but they are dessert wines that are full-bodied and luscious. As I mentioned before, Ports can remain open on the counter overnight with nearly no loss in flavor. If you open it, sip a little, then put it in the fridge; this one would likely still be drinkable for a month or more. I prefer my Ports slightly chilled.

My recommended wines for winter:

Franc from Field Recordings

$18.43 per 750ml bottle

Golden Reserve Malbec from Trivento

$18.89 per 750ml bottle

Six Grapes Port from W. & J. Graham

$27.65 per 750ml bottle

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Good wine and good wishes!