Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wines for All Hallows’ Eve

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While the kids are out trick or treating let us enjoy some delicious wines at home. Since the season is cool in most of the country it is an ideal time for hearty reds, and maybe a splash of Champagne or a great dessert wine.

Zinfandels often have the deep, dark color of what masquerades as blood and the intensity to pair with big fall foods. Lodi and Amador County producer some of the best of them in California, with a great fruit and spice profile and ribbons of acidity. Sobon Estate Fiddletown has long been one of my favorites for how well balanced and food friendly it is.

Other Reds to Warm Up a Cold Night
There’s nothing like the zest and elegance of red Bordeaux-inspired blend. We have them in Sonoma, Napa, and there are making them as far afield as South Africa and Chile. Many countries are adding a little bit of their own home-grown style to the wines, such as with the addition of Pinotage—not always my favorite—or Carménère down in Chile.

Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva is great example of what cool-climate Chilean terroir can do. Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons "Classique" 2011 is a beautiful blend of the two most classic Bordeaux red varieties—Merlot and Cabernet—with a French touch out of South Africa. It also has a small amount of Pinotage that blends in with the stronger varietals.

Ridge in California does a totally inventive take on blends: although it has everything but the traditional Bordeaux grapes in it.

Earthy Red to Sip by a Fire
Whether you have a fireplace or not you can carve a pumpkin and toast your hands beside it. October is the time of the year is the time of year when earthy-smelling wines warm the bones and pair beautifully with big steaks.

Côtes du Rhônes or Châteauneuf-du-Pape will all stand up the occansion. One of my favorite, most consistent appellations is Gigondas and the Domaine Raspail-Ay, made mostly from Grenache is a great example. Madiran and Cahors are also great picks, best served with a rich dish like roast duck.

Going Classic
Let the kids can eat M&Ms and peanut butter cups, we can enjoy our adult candy: a great vintage Port or Sauternes. Inniskillin’s Riesling Icewine is also another favorite of mine. You could pour it over ice cream if you really wanted to indulge but it is lovely on its own.

Sparkling Shiraz or Lambrusco—I always love Lini—is a splendid way to finish an evening with something sweet and sparkling. A lovely glass of Champagne—I could never had enough Gosset—is another great way to wrap up any holiday.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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