The thermometer has dipped below the freezing mark a couple of times recently and there’s been frost on the car windshield in the mornings. Being from Green Bay, I must confess that it hasn’t been “frozen tundra” cold here in Cannon Beach, but it’s been cold enough to turn on the furnace and put on the warmer clothes. You know it’s “frozen tundra” cold makes itself known when your car engine is frozen, there is a negative sign in front of the temperature or a “warming trend” means the temps are going up into the teens.
As the temperature drops, I start changing the wine I drink, moving from whites and pinot noir to big reds. I particularly enjoy a nice red blend, malbec or cabernet sauvignon. Each of these red wines is full-bodied and has the tannins necessary to warm you up when there is a chill in the air. Here are some of my current favorites.
Red Blend “Wild Z”, Zerba Cellars, OR $28. Zerba is one of my favorite Pacific Northwest wineries. As red wine specialists, if Zerba ferments it and puts it in a bottle, trust me, it’s delicious. Zerba’s Wild Z is blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petite Verdot. This Bordeaux style red blend results in flavors of dark fruit, with hints of spice. I love drinking a nice red blend with pasta, including butternut squash ravioli and lasagna. Other popular red blends are Puffin Red Blend ($24) and Abacela’s Vintner’s Blend ($16).
Malbec “Reserve”, Pascual Toso, Argentina, $25. Malbec is one of my new favorite red wines. I’ve been giving Malbec more attention recently, as part of my 2013 wine resolutions to try more varietals. This Malbec pleases the taste buds, with tastes of blackberry and spice. I must admit that when I think of Malbec, I think of the Argentine gauchos (cowboys) and their diet of beef, beef and more beef. As such, Malbec is a natural with a grilled steak. But, if you are a vegetarian, you could easily pair this Malbec with grilled portabella and vegetables. If you are looking for a local Malbec, try Abacela ($28), which is made in Southern Oregon.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Novelty Hill, WA, $28. Since we’re talking about big reds, we have to talk about Cabernet Sauvignon. We just poured this Cab from Novelty Hill in our Tasting Room and it was a big hit. This Cab is delicious, but it doesn’t break the bank. This wine delivers tastes of dark fruit and spice, including a little black pepper. This Cabernet would pair nicely with a wide range of foods, including grilled meats, burgers, portabella, game, lamb and pasta. This Cab’s finish is smooth enough that it would also be nice to drink by itself. Other delicious and affordable Northwest Cabernet Sauvignon’s include Owen Roe “Sharecropper” ($20), Nelms Road ($28) and Ferraro Cellars ($30).
Each of these wines will help to keep you warm on a chilly evening. For proper serving of these red wines, I recommend that you serve them slightly cooler than room temperature. I’m not saying that you serve cold red wines, but if your house thermostat is set at 70 or warmer, that would be a bit warm. Instead, I’d recommend you chill the red wine for about 30 minutes to a temperature of 60-65 degrees. This is the perfect temperature for red wine and allows the wine to fully open. I would also recommend that you decant the red wine for about 15-30 minutes. You don’t need a fancy decanter to do this, instead just open the bottle for a short period prior to serving. By taking these two small steps, chilling and decanting, you are giving the wine the opportunity to present itself as the winemaker intended.