Nov. 27 2015 03:51 PM

Cold weather brings out warm wine blends

    Now that the temperature has dipped (below 80 degrees) it’s time once again to drink red wines. I was sharing a red blend with a friend recently and she asked me why blends weren’t more popular. After a little chat about the wonderful world of Bordeaux, I decided to look for some tasty blends closer to home.

    Given that “blend” is a broad category, you have to do some research to find something you’ll enjoy. Think about the varietals you like on their own and how they might enhance one another. I found a good example of this in Experience Wines’ red blend from Napa Valley. Zinfandel makes up the majority of this blend (62 percent) along with Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah and a touch of Merlot. The result is a deep purple wine that embodies lush earthy notes along with bright cherry flavors. A kick of anise hit me in a pleasant way before a long smooth finish.

    One grape I’ll always turn to is Zinfandel. From jammy versions to earthy styles, I tend to love it all. I recently popped open a bottle of Beran’s 2012 Zinfandel of California. I was immediately struck by the vegetal qualities of the aromatics—green bell pepper and eucalyptus notes punctuated by bold leather and faint vanilla. However, upon drinking this one I was struck by a lot more fruit than expected. Dark red berries and a touch of tobacco made this layered wine one I wanted to keep revisiting. While not technically a blend, this wine does include some old vine Petite Sirah that I think adds to its beautiful balance.

    Sticking with my California theme I picked up the 2012 Sparrow Hawk Reserve Red Wine from Napa County. Mainly I grabbed this because it was convenient and inexpensive at Costco. But I started to have high hopes when the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot immediately revealed hints of molasses, baking spices and a bit of pepper on the nose. The wine was equally strong on the palate with berry flavors and strong tannins. The latter pairs well with a rich fatty cheese.

    With so many bold reds to be found, I’m going to cross my fingers for more cool weather and more excuses to drink California blends

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