As you prepare for the onslaught of family, parties, and whirlwind of entertaining that the season brings, some of you may feel like your home bar could use a little sprucing up. Instead of relying on those (tired) go-to wines, why not try something new?
Here, our editor wine picks feature a few lesser known winter wines that can help fill that home bar, and add a little ‘something special’ to the space.
Hailing from the Douro Valley in Portugal is the 2010 Niepoort Vertente Douro Tinto. A stunningly bright, deep ruby red wine that offers both warmth and complexity. The Vertente is made with Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) grapes from the 25-year-old vineyards of Quinta de Nápoles and the old vines planted on the banks of the Pinhão River. The taste is a real crowd pleaser, and pairs wonderfully with savory and sweet foods.
Nose: Vanilla, soft spice with layers of raspberry jam.
Taste: Black cherry, spice, leather, dark fruits. Medium tannins, with a long finish.
Color: Dark purple with a ruby rim.
Varietals: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), others
Price/Points: $26 SRP/94 pts
Pair with: Roasted beef tenderloin, duck with cherries, ropa vieja, Portuguese kale soup, 70% dark chocolate
Another big, bold red, the Bodegas Volver Triga 2011 is a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon from Alicante, Spain. With intense black and blueberry fruit aromas conducive to Tempranillo, it exhibits lots of spice and fruit forward flavors.
Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, spice.
Taste: Black cherry, spiced plum, dark chocolate. Medium tannins, with a sleek texture and a solid body.
Color: Dark, almost opaque purple.
Varietals: Cabernet, Tempranillo
Price/Points: $45 SRP/90 pts
Pair with: New York strip with blue cheese sauce, barbecue ribs, cherry glazed duck breast.
If you’re serving shellfish or seafood, try the Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2011 from South Africa. An affordably priced bottle (under $15), serve it chilled as an aperitif, or with fresh grilled oysters.
Nose: Guava, lime zest and ripe pear with honeysuckle blossoms.
Taste: A juicy palate with round, tart passion-fruit, following through grapefruit and lime zest. Refreshing acidity, a creamy mid note, hints of spice, with a dry finish.
Color: Straw yellow with glints of green on the rim.
Varietals: Chenin Blanc
Price/Points: $13 SRP, 89 pts
Pair with: Shellfish, grilled tuna, lemon chicken, and lentil stew.
Try one or all three of these fall wine pairings, for a selection that’s sure to please guests at your next party.