February is the heart of winter, nestled between December's winter solstice and March's vernal equinox. It’s also a month with several holidays: Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, Valentines’ Day, President's Day and Fat Tuesday the precurser to Lent. Sports fan, romantic or ready to party before the Lenten season, the odds are you will find yourself with food and a glass of wine in your hand.
What wine or wines will allow you to float seamlessly between these events without missing a glorious glassful?
A good bet: Sasyr, by Italian producer Rocca delle Macie. This is an easy-drinking red blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah. Made with grapes from the Maremma vineyards, the color is a deep ruby red and the scent is a little tart. Smooth and voluptuous with notes of tangy fruit and light blackberry, this wine is sure to please almost everyone. The sweet notes dry on the finish, but the blend retains its smooth character. Perfect for pairing with beef, roast pork, cheeses, meat dishes with green peppers, lasagna or pasta with tomatoes, or a meaty pizza. Around $15.
Miguel Torres S.A. Ribera del Duero Celeste Blue Label, is a Spanish Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. This is a true tempranillo: rich fruit with undeniable structure. This hearty, full-bodied wine has a spicy and intense nose full of licorice, anise and black pepper, with well-ripened blackberry and cherry fruit notes. One sip and you realize this is very fruity on the palate. The palate offers a touch of anise, toasty wood, and delineating tannins and acidity. Perfect for sipping on its own or add a touch of spice to lamb, pork, pungent cheeses or grilled oily fish. Around $20.
For a wine that will “stick to your ribs” try: Cono Sur Bicicleta Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, Chile. This single varietal Carmenere from South America’s Southern Cone is a plush mouthful of Chile. Here, the lush, ripe blackberry and cassis flavors perfectly contrast with bright, spicy, pipe tobacco and pepper flavors. Smooth and rich, it’s meaty, with a snappy, spicy finish and moderate, cleansing tannins. Pair with anything from pizza to prime rib, sandwiches to chicken salad, soups and stews to sautéed lamb chops or Mexican dishes. It also pairs well with blue cheeses, and Asiago. Around $10.
For something a little different, Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz, from South Australia fits the bill. First off, there is no mistaking this wine for anything but a Syrah from the Land of Oz. It’s like swallowing a liquid, nonsweet boysenberry jam, with whispers of chocolate and cracked black pepper—wow! It has those huge tannins that only a Syrah can sport — and these are immense but supple. This is one luxurious juicy wine Pair with dark meats; hearty, herbed bean or vegetable ragout. About $25-$30.
Achaval-Ferrer Malbec Finca Altamira, a Malbec, from the Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina is wine consistently is rated 90+ year in and year out. Needless to say, it’s an all time favorite. It is an outstanding Malbec with entrancing aromatics of truffle, black cherry and plum. It is opulent on the palate, revealing complex flavors and considerable depth, richness and length. This wine is a hedonists dream come true. There is the extraordinary earthiness, and terrific, come-hither scents of cocoa followed by decadently rich, layered black cherry fruit, This red is made for beef, lamb and pork dishes, and don’t shy away from a little heat; this Malbec can handle it! A classic braised beef, peppers and onions over yellow rice with toasted cumin, curried lamb patties as well as fuller-flavored dishes, firm cheeses are guaranteed to work well. It’s great by itself! It’s highly recommended that you decant this wine for at least an hour before drinking. About $89+. This one is a winner.
This list obviously doesn’t cover all of the February holiday wine pairings, but hopefully these double-duty, versatile wines will see you through February to spring
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