With the holidays upon us, the desire to raise a glass in celebration is seemingly universal. This is a time of year to slow down and take a moment to reflect on the past year and to set our most thoughtful intentions for the upcoming year. For so many of us, taking a pause can be a concerted effort. We are unaccustomed to downtime and rarely do we afford ourselves a moment to contemplate and dream. Enter the winter red wine. Drinking red wine in winter is a custom, but it’s more than that too. If you have noticed that the colder months bring out a pension for winter red wine in you, you are not alone. There are many reasons why folks will find themselves drinking red wine in winter.
While it has been scientifically studied that those living in the colder regions of the world are known to consume more red wine during the winter months, it is actually true of warmer regions, too. Picking up a bottle of winter red wine to enjoy over the long nights of winter is not just a romantic notion. It turns out there are a number of reasons we may experience a preference for drinking red wine in winter months.
1. Increased Blood Flow
Alcohol increases our flood flow which is one reason why the winter months bring about an increased love for red wine. If you can, close your eyes and imagine sitting in a cozy place, perhaps among friends or next to a fire sipping on a glass of red wine. You can almost feel the warmth, can’t you? Drinking red wine in winter gives us that sensation of warmth and that extra flush in our cheeks.
2. Germ Buster
Red wine can be high in antioxidants and with the winter months keeping everyone indoors, some extra antioxidants can go a long way. Winter months and the colder weather are known to bring about common colds and more. If you needed another reason to drink red wine during the winter, getting some germ-busting antioxidants on board is a terrific reason.
3. Heart Healthy
Did you know that moderate consumption of red wine can be a really heart healthy choice? Drinking red wine in winter can actually be helpful in reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Enjoying winter red wine can foster connections to people both within and outside of your circle of friends and loved ones. Wine lovers tend to be enthusiastic about sharing their love and enjoyment of red wine. Enjoying a bottle among friends is a great way to foster connections and keep in touch. Likewise, talking to wine enthusiasts around the world, or in your own community can be an amazing way to increase your social circle and meet new and interesting people. Whether it’s online or in person, sharing a love of wine can be a great connector, conversation starter or even the basis for new friendships.
5. Get in the Holiday Spirit
Whether you love the holidays or you simply can’t wait for them to be done with, drinking red wine can give that extra boost to the winter festivities. Wine is something to gather around, a spirit that brings about connection and conversation. The simple act of stopping at a local wine shop to pick up a bottle on the way to a holiday party can put us in the mood to celebrate. Can you think of anything more spirited than putting on your best holiday party clothes, or even the ugliest Christmas sweater ever, and arriving at a friend’s house with a gorgeous bottle of thoughtfully chosen red wine? What a way to make an entrance!
6. Catch the Sales
Winter wine enthusiasm means sales. During the winter months stores and wineries want to cultivate a relationship with customers which can mean sales, sales, sales. Wine sales are a fantastic way to discover new wines that you have never tried. Exploring different wine regions and different vintages can be extremely rewarding. And if you can save some money while you are at it, even better, right?
7. The Pairings
I don’t know about you, but when I think winter, I think food! There is nothing like the smell of a roast in the oven or a delicious sauce or soup simmering on the stovetop. Whether it’s a big family meal for the holidays or a small and intimate meal, winter and food seem to be in concert with each other just as much as winter and red wine. In my house, we use the long dark days as an excuse to stay inside experimenting with new recipes and trying our hand at cuisines from around the world.
Whether or not we are successful on any given evening, one thing is for certain, we are enjoying a bottle of red wine with our meal. Part of the fun of cooking is choosing the wine that best compliments the food we are serving. The opportunity to experience new pairings is one of the best reasons to drink red wine in winter.
If you have traveled around Washington as a wine enthusiast, chances are you have visited The Red Mountain, and in particular, The Red Mountain American Viticultural Area, or AVA. The Red Mountain wine region is in the southeast corner of Washington state, near the Tri-Cities and nestled between Rattlesnake Mountain and Candy Mountain.
The Red Mountain AVA is on the southwest slope and is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle. Surprisingly, the AVA is one of the smallest grape growing regions in Washington. It’s also one of the warmest. With its truly unique and diverse geology, its south slope, and the consistent winds the grapes grown in the Red Mountain wine region are some of the best in the world.
Here is our shortlist of the best Red Mountain wines:
The 2006 Red from Portrait Cellars is a must-try. And with a price tag of $25 it makes the perfect holiday or birthday gift. This wine is produced intimately in an estate vineyard and is aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels. After its two-year aging process, there is a three to four-year delay from release. During this time the intensity of wine is allowed to mellow. This impressive Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It is known for its smoke and cherry intensity.
We have no reservations about calling the Goedhart Family 2009 Syrah one of the best Red Mountain wines from the Red Mountain wine region. This Syrah is made from grapes picked early which are bright and acidic, as well as grapes picked later which are gamey and deep. The Syrah is aged for ten months in oak and the result is truly elegant as well as complex.
Pacific Rim & Co.
Pacific Rim & Co.'s Thick Skinned is from the Red Mountain wine region and truly stands apart from other wines with its beautiful bold character. Thick Skinned fermentation process brings out the distinctly lush textures and flavors of the fully ripened grapes that are harvested for its production. Thick Skinned is a Bordeaux style blend and has a bold character which makes it one of the best Red Mountain wines.
Pour a glass, relax, and appreciate the beauty and refinement of the best Red Mountain wines.
When we talk about Bordeaux-style blends it is important to know the depth of that phrase and to understand what a Bordeaux blend truly is. Bordeaux-style blends can be used to describe a variety of wines including blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and, perhaps even Carmenère and Malbec.
Colloquially, Bordeaux-style blends include those produced in the Bordeaux region and beyond. California, Washington, and Argentina are all among the world’s producers of these types of wines. However, regulations dictate that only wines made in the Bordeaux area can be actually labeled as Bordeaux.
Bordeaux-style blends are very popular, largely due to their versatility. These blends are easy enough to pair, so if you are looking for some Bordeaux blend food pairing ideas, look no further than this post.
Some of the most recommended and classic Bordeaux blend food pairing ideas are red meats. Lamb and beef dishes lend themselves particularly well to this pairing. The tannins in these wines work with the protein in red meat to enhance flavors and make for an overall delicious pairing.
Bordeaux-style blends pair well with absolutely any barbequed red meats and we also recommend dark-meat foul, venison, and bison for something a bit more unusual.
Now for the favorite part of any meal: dessert! Bordeaux blend food pairing ideas are not limited to the main course! Bordeaux-style blends lend themselves wonderfully to being paired with rich desserts, such as dark chocolate or other chocolates, particularly those that are unsweetened. Whether it’s a chocolate tort, some holiday fudge or a decadent layer cake, a Bordeaux-style blend is a great choice.
One of our absolute favorites from the Bordeaux-style blend family is Pacific Rim & Co.’s own Thick Skinned. It’s a gorgeous blend from the Red Mountain wine region in Washington State. What will you pair it with?
2020 has been quite a year. Eventful to say the least. As the New Year quickly approaches we are all looking for ways to head into 2021 with a bit of optimism and hope. Here are some great resolutions for all of you wine lovers out there.
New Year’s resolutions for wine lovers:
Our first New Year’s resolution for wine lovers is to buy local. Chances are your state, county or town has a local winery or two. Supporting wineries near you is a great way to spend your money and get to know the wines produced in your area. Local wines make wonderful birthday, holiday and housewarming gifts.
2. Vote with your dollar
Like any industry there are many details about how operations are run that may or may not align with your morals and values. Voting with your dollar is a choice you can make, that, along the same lines as supporting local wineries, may just make a difference in the industry as a whole. At the very least you are supporting wineries and distributors that align with your priorities and morals.
3. Know what you like
Knowing what traits you enjoy about a wine is a great way to experience more enjoyment when you visit a wine seller or a vineyard. You needn’t know all the details and the terminology, but being able to provide a basic description of some of the qualities you enjoy in wine or some of the characteristics that are most appealing to you will help you find a more satisfying experience at a wine tasting or when purchasing a bottle.
4. Try new things
Don’t ever be afraid of trying new wines! One thing to keep in mind is when and where to do this. When you are out celebrating at a fancy and expensive restaurant you want to be sure you get maximum pleasure from your glass, or bottle, of wine. For you, this may or may not be the right time to try something new.
A tasting at a shop or at a vineyard is a great time to try something new and branch out. Even if you don’t prefer what you try, it can be really helpful information and can even give you clues about what to try next. Trying new wines is fun and informative.
5. Keep a diary
If you join a club that ships you different bottles of wine each month it can be a struggle to remember what you have tried or what you loved. When it comes to running out to pick up a bottle or two for a dinner party or to stock up for a staycation or the holidays you will want to have something to refer to.
Keeping records about what wines you have tried that include a detailed description as well as your reactions to the wine is not only useful but it can be a really fun practice that helps you increase your awareness and knowledge of wine properties and characteristics!
We wish you a happy and safe New Year!
So you find yourself in a wine bar and some bore is trying to impress you: Old vine wine is the only wine worth drinking. You could not get me to drink anything other than…” At this point, you stopped listening because you’d rather enjoy your glass of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon in peace. But… is there something to this? Is old vine wine better? In other words, do old vines produce superior quality?
What Is Old Vine Wine?
There is no strict age limit when it comes to an old vine. But we can generalize:
- 3 Years: It takes this long for a grapevine to begin to produce fruit. Winemaking is truly an investment in time, energy, and love.
- 7 - 8 Years: Now a vine is considered an “adult.”
- 12 - 25 Years: At this point, the grapevine is considered “mature.”
- 25+ Years: We’re getting old now! Some experts say that 50-year-old vines produce the best wines!
We need to dig into some wine history real quick. A tiny insect called the Phylloxera decimated Europe’s winemaking industry in the late 1800s. This aphid-like pest destroyed ancient vineyards, causing fatal root damage and microbial infections.
To attack the issue, winemakers grafted Vitis vinifera grapevines (from which their wine came) to North American species that were resistant to Phylloxera. But among the benefits, such as ability to cope with drought, grafting tends to shorten the lifespan of vines to 25 - 30 years. Hence why 25+ is considered “old” in most of the wine-producing world today.
At the ripe old age of 25 - 30 (perhaps extending to 50 or more in some areas), vines do seem to behave differently. How?
- The fruit is more concentrated. As they age, old vine wines produce less fruit. Many argue that the fruit they do produce, however, is richer and more flavorful.
- They have deep roots. This enables the vines to pull in water and nutrients from deeper into the ground. They tend to be more resistant to drought and flood, as well as more consistent in flavor.
- They are lower-maintenance. Oh, those young vines. They need so much attention! Old vines, if healthy, pretty much take care of themselves.
- Old vines may be more resistant to disease. They seem to have hardier, tougher leaves. But likely at play as well is “selection of the fittest.” If vines live to be old, they have developed resistance to black goo, Esca, fan leaf, and other scourges.
All this may be true - but it is also important to look at the quality of the vines, not just the age. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s, many vines were grown with a “quantity over quality” mentality. This does not bode well for the resulting wine! A young vine that is grown biodynamically, for example, can produce wine that is exceptional in all ways compared to an old vine that was grown with chemical-laden conventional techniques.
So age isn’t always a determinant of quality. Look deeper: what about the vineyard itself? What type of philosophy does it follow in terms of soil treatment? Pest control? Planting? Harvesting? Producing wine? Likely that old bore talking about old vine wine has no idea what it really means!
Instead of focusing solely on old vine wine, look at where and how the grapes are grown and how they go from vine to glass. This will tell you much more.