By: Larissa Dubose, Resident Wine Educator, The Lotus & The Vines
We’re knee deep into winter, and many of us have officially experienced the now seemingly annual “polar vortex,” which was hopefully made a little easier with Pt. 1 of our Winter Wine Guide. If you live in Atlanta like me, you have officially survived our annual “snow storm” complete with not one snowflake…ha! Regardless of where you are geographically (besides the Southern Hemisphere), we’re all feeling the frigid temperatures, and if you’re like me, then a chilled White Wine is not on your radar right now (unless you’re pairing it with food). With that, bring on the RED Wine please! Like Pt. 1, these wines were selected because they are approachable (for the most part), and easily enjoyed on their own. Their approachability also transcends to perfect food pairings—specifically, the cuddle up, comfort foods like soups, stews, and crockpot recipes that compliment winter and make the season’s chill a little easier to manage.
Let’s make Wine our Passport and travel through Pt. 2 of our Winter Reds…
Tempranillo- In complete authenticity, I have been developing my palate for “Old World” red Wines. I had to develop my palate, because I traditionally have not liked Tempranillo in the past. What I’ve found with Wine however, is the more you expose yourself to new Wines, the better you can appreciate the qualities, and at the least determine that you prefer to drink certain wines with food. Look for Rioja and Ribera del Duero on the wine label, as Tempranillo is the primary grape used in their production. Check out the specific aging requirements below.
- Joven or Rioja: these Wines are “young” with relatively no oak aging and are meant to be enjoyed while they’re young. These Wines will be the most fruit forward of the aging categories:
- Crianza- 1 year oak, 1 year bottle
- Reserva- 1 year in oak, 2 years in bottle
- Gran Reserva- 2 years in oak, 3 years in bottle
Tempranillo gives aromas of red and black fruits like cherry, strawberry, and black currant. Additionally, you will find secondary, and tertiary (contingent on how old the wine is) aromas. Aromas like tobacco, herbs, and leather to name a few. Riojas that see oak aging are unique as they typically see American Oak, which gives aromas of vanilla, coconut, and even dill.
Camenere- Use Wine as your Passport and travel to Chile with this medium-bodied Wine. For years it was mistaken as Merlot, but then the divine understanding was revealed that this savory delight has its own entity.
Fun Fact: Chile is one of the only regions in the world that was not devastated by phylloxera (a VERY troublesome vineyard pest that destroyed most of the world’s Wine grapevines). These Old Vines thrive and create concentrated wines with ripe to jammy aromas of blackberry, black currant, raspberry and plum as well as green aromas like bell pepper, green peppercorn and herbs.
Syrah/Shiraz- Here’s an interesting one! The same grape grown in different regions has not only a different name, but also distinctly unique characteristics. For today’s purpose, let’s focus on Northern Rhone in France and Shiraz in Australia. While both regions and styles present blackberry, black cherry, plum, raspberry, and blueberry aromas, the condition of the fruit on the nose, use of oak, and overall structure of the wine can lead you to which region is better suited for you.
Like I’ve said and will remind ya’ll time and time again, everyone is right when it comes to Wine because it’s truly a matter of what flavor profile you prefer. Both styles could be enjoyed solo, if you like more medium- to full-bodied reds. But in my opinion, these Wines shine best when paired with food like red and smoked meats.
- Northern Rhone: In addition to the fruit, this style of wine will present more savory aromas and flavors. The fruit condition will be more tart vs. an Australia Shiraz that will present Ripe and Jammy fruit aromas. Look for Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas, Côte-Rôtie, and Saint-Joseph, to name a few. And remember that Old World Wines like those from France label their wines by Region.
- Australia: This style of wine will be more full-bodied, with pronounced aromas of Ripe to Jammy fruits like those mentioned above. There will also hint of black pepper, and potentially eucalyptus. Oak is more than likely used adding secondary aromas of baking spices and clove.
Brachetto d’Acqui– For my Wine Lovers with sweeter palates, you know I didn’t forget about you! Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this Wine is especially for you. This Wine tends to be lower in alcohol, and boasts pronounced, ripe flavors of strawberries, raspberries, and rose petals. In the States, you typically find this Wine with a touch of “Frizzante” (Italian for light sparkling). This Wine is easily enjoyed solo after a long day, with spicy dishes, like Thai cuisine, or complimenting a dessert course.