January’s juicy fruit
Jammy wines pair with rich desserts and temper hearty and spicy entrees.
Port, Malbec and a white blend called Conundrum are three of my favorite winter wines to warm up with this cold January. Other excellent cold weather wines are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Meritage wines*, Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), Super Tuscan reds, red Zinfandel and Syrah.
Port wines are sweet red dessert wines from the Oporto area of Portugal that explode with fruit flavors. Jammy, rich notes of blackberries, black currants, black cherries, prunes, raisins and dates fill one’s palate. With 20 percent alcohol in this wine, get ready to relax.
Port is a fortified wine. It begins as a red wine, but halfway through the fermentation process, aguardente or brandy is added to stop the fermentation. What remains is a lot of unfermented sugar in the wine, creating Port. It is sometimes matured in oak and comes in various styles such as Vintage (year declaration) or late-bottled Vintage. As its name suggests, late-bottled Vintage is bottled later, remaining in wood between four and six years, whereas Vintage Port is only kept in wood 20 months or so. Other styles include Colheita or Tawny, and even white Port.
Port is generally served with chocolate-laced desserts, but it also goes well with pecan pie, blackberry and cherry pie, and many other confections.
Malbec is an Argentinean wine, although it also is produced in southern France. It’s a wonderfully smooth red wine, with smoky blueberry and blackberry flavors and medium tannins. In blind tastings, I still mistake Malbec for Syrah or Shiraz, so there is a similarity among these varietals.
Argentinean Malbec is best grown at high altitudes (the highest vineyard in the world is in Argentina at 10,000 feet above sea level). At high altitudes, the grapes receive better solar intensity and therefore have brighter and more intense flavors, as well as increased color. Malbec is a terrific food wine, pairing well with everything from barbecue to beef and pork tenderloin to pizza and burgers.
Conundrum is a luscious, rich style of white wine with a hint of sweetness (called off-dry). The Conundrum by Caymus is a California dream all the way. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat.
Because it does have a little sweetness, Conundrum is phenomenal with foods that pack some heat. Think of pairing a wine like this with spicy Kung Pao chicken or a tuna roll with wasabi sauce. When you have a spicy meal, you need an off-dry or slightly sweet wine to temper the heat. The result is amazing.
*Meritage wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec.
Sips at home
Caymus Conundrum, California — $17.49
This is one of my all-time favorite “slightly sweet” white blends. It’s loaded with pineapple, baked apple, juicy pear and Meyer lemon flavors. It’s juicy fruit in a glass!
Decero Malbec, Argentina — $17.99
When you need a blockbuster of a Malbec, grab a bottle of Decero. This is a fruit bomb yet nicely balanced between acids and alcohol. Fire up the grill before pouring a glass of this scrumptious Malbec.
More the merrier
Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port, Portugal — $23.99/750 ml
It’s not every day we can afford Vintage Port or even late-bottled Port, so consider Six Grapes Port made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga
Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Cao. The more grapes, the merrier in this juicy red dessert wine.
Sips around town
Naples Flatbread and Wine Bar
Manager Sheahadin Jeffers is selling a ton of the juicy Duckpond Cabernet from Washington at $9 a glass and $33 a bottle.
“It just explodes out of the glass with juicy blackberry fruit,” he says. “It’s perfect and very warming when the wind is howling outside in January.” 4929 E. 71st St., 918-794-1600
Mahogany Prime Steakhouse
Manager Eben Shillingford thinks winter in Oklahoma is all about juicy red wine, and one of his favorites at the restaurant is the Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon selling for $18 a glass and $70 a bottle.
“Prime steak and juicy Cabernet in January — what could be better?” he asks. 6823 S. Yale. Ave, 918-494-4043