This week's cold snap made it plain that we're now fully in the grips of winter. The freezing temperatures and dark days have settled in, which affects more than just our choice of outwear.
For wine and food lovers, the frigid temperatures mean a chance to indulge in all manner of rich, comforting flavours, the sort of things that make zero sense when the sun is high in the sky. Caramelizing onions, roasting vegetables or stewing beef lose much of their appeal in August's humidity.
But those time-intensive preparations are welcome tonic to ward off the winter cold, while perfuming your home with a most enjoyable fragrance.
Winter also provides a welcome opportunity to savour robust red wines whose rich character help to warm you from the inside. A sommelier friend endorses drinking wines from warm climates when it's cold outside and ones from cooler regions during the summer.
His logic is that wines produced in warmer regions, such as Australia, California and Chile, tend to be richer and riper, which makes for gutsier wines.
Gutsy wines -- you could call them wines with more oomph -- are bolder and contain higher alcohol levels because of the ripeness of the grapes. It's a bit of a generalization, but one that merits some attention as the snow banks accumulate outside.
Here are three gutsy wines that fit the bill for fuller-bodied, flavourful reds that can withstand the frosty blast of a Canadian winter.
Wines of the Week:
M. Chapoutier 2010 Côtes du Rhône Villages
Rhône Valley, France
BC $18.99 (476846) | AB $19 | ON $18.45 (321539)
Chapoutier's expressive blend of Grenache, Syrah and other black grapes makes for a spicy and fruity red that is easy to appreciate. It's refreshing, with a plush texture and pleasing mix of juicy cherry and berry flavours.
Tommasi 2009 Valpolicella Ripasso
BC $29.99 (566844) | AB $27 | MB $26 | ON $19.95 (910430)
Ripasso refers to a winemaking practice that sees this bold red supercharged by re-fermenting on Amarone skins. The process adds complexity and flavour, making for a rich red that has good intensity and a lingering aftertaste. Enjoy with braised, stewed or roasted meat dishes or pasta with a strong tomato sauce.
Viña Concha y Toro 2010 Casillero del Diablo Carmenère Reserva
Rapel Valley, Chile
BC $13.99 (153270) | AB $13 | MB $12 | ON $11.95 (620666)
This robust red offers loads of smoky, spicy and minty aromas and flavours. The wine's soft texture and rich flavour make it a bottle with mass appeal. It's an inexpensive bottle with a strong personality that would be an ideal match for barbecued meat.