The Christmas tree has been taken down and you have put all the ornaments away in boxes for another year. The holidays are over and baby, it’s cold outside. Days are short, nights are long and for the next few months we will all be longing for those hot summer days when we have that glass of crisp, refreshing white wine in our hands.
For many of us there is a seasonality to the type of wine we drink. More white wines in the summer, and red wines in the winter. In the winter months, we crave comfort wines — big, bold, and complex red wines that stimulate our taste buds.
Merlots, cabernets, pinot noirs and other red blends offer what we are seeking during the winter doldrums. Here for your consideration are some must-sip reds from our local wineries.
Pelee Island Lighthouse Cabernet Franc (LCBO# 145441, $13.95) — Did you know that cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc are the parent grapes to Cabernet Sauvignon? This cab franc from Pelee Island Winery is a tasty value-priced wine that delivers a good bang for the buck! Red cherry fruit with a hint of green pepper notes. Juicy, medium-bodied and, while the finish is dry, the fruit offers an impression of sweetness. Very easy drinking on its own, or consider pairing with burgers or a hearty winter dish such as meatballs in tomato sauce.
CREW Cabernet Franc 2016 (VINTAGES# 315945, $22.95) — I’ve probably said this before, but it is worth mentioning again. The red wines from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) are always superior. You cannot go wrong picking up any of the red wines, and this one does not disappoint. It is a very complex cab franc. Ripe red berry fruits, baking spices, turned earth, leather, and vanilla notes. The alcohol content approaches 14% giving the wine a full-bodied mouthfeel and the acidity is very crisp and cleansing. While you might not be able to fire up the BBQ for a few months, this cab franc will pair well with a grilled steak or Sunday roast and potatoes.
Cooper’s Hawk 2017 Cabernet Franc (LCBO# 585950, $19.95) — This is an LCBO general list wine that can be found in the Ontario VQA wine section of many LCBO’s. The 2017 vintage of this wine can now be found on the shelf and this is the one you should pick if given the choice between the 2016 or 2017 vintage. Ripe red berry fruits, spice, herbs, and exotic violet flowers. Mouth watering acidity is a good indication that this wine is very food-friendly. Medium plus firm tannins suggest that you could also cellar this one for a few years, if you can resist the temptation to open sooner. Consider pairing with roast pork, beef tenderloin or lamb.
Pelee Island Pinot Noir (LCBO# 135939, $14.95) — Pelee Island Winery makes a few different pinot noirs at different price points. After the Christmas holidays it is time to buckle down and become a little more budget-conscious, as all those bills start rolling in. For a pinot noir priced under $15 this one is an excellent value
Pelee Island Baco Noir (LCBO# 485128, $12.95) — Baco noir is a French American hybrid red wine grape that is very winter-hardy and grows well in cool climate regions such as Ontario, Nova Scotia, New York, and Michigan. Deep dark purple, almost inky in colour, black berry and plum fruits, smoky notes and high acidity. Baco has a rustic quality and can be kind of edgy. But when made right, it is very fruity and lush. Pelee’s baco noir delivers and is worthy of opening on one of these cold winter evenings.
Viewpointe Estate Cabernet Merlot (LCBO# 220723, $13,95) — When this red blend from Viewpointe Estate Winery in Lake Erie North Shore first appeared on the shelf at the LCBO it is was $12.95. Some seven or eight years later it is only a dollar more. That beats the rate of inflation. This wine drinks more like a twenty-dollar red blend. It is an excellent value. Red cherry, blueberry, and plum fruit notes, black earth and saddle leather. That’s a lot of complexity in a fourteen-dollar bottle of wine!
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery Warm ‘n’ Cozy Mulled Wine (LCBO# 348524, $11.95) — And finally, a wine that will keep you warm and cozy in the winter. Mulled wine origins can be traced back to the United Kingdom. Basically, the recipe for mulled wine is to mix one large cupful of water for every half litre of wine, adding sugar and spice to taste. The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon. The concoction is usually heated before serving. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery has taken most the work out of the mix and suggests that you empty the bottle into a pot and warm to your preference. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or a slice of orange. That will warm you up!