Wine: Spice things up

By Brittany Kress Gibson
From the October 31, 2013 edition

I’m not embarrassed to admit it — even the first nip of cold air (and snowflakes!) last week had me cowering in fear of winter.

As a wine drinker, what’s the best way to prepare for a long and cold winter? Stock up on spicy wine.

“Spicy” doesn’t mean it’s on par with Sriracha — but it might leave your tongue a little tingly. A wine with spice is typically characterized by a peppery, cinnamon-y flavor, a byproduct of the oak barrel it’s been aged in, along with other variables combined, rather than some sort of spice from the grape itself.

My challenge: Find a spicy wine to warm me up. The 2011 Plungerhead Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) suggested to me at MacLaren Wines fit the bill fairly well. It’s a Lodi, California-grown label that’s a lot spicier than most cabernets — something you can almost smell as it tingles your nose before you take a sip.

But it’s not so spicy that your average red-wine drinker wouldn’t like it. In fact, they might love it. Thanks to a full body and some toasty oak flavors, the overall effect is balanced, while garnering accolades for spicing things up a bit. Try it with a pulled-pork-and-caramelized-onion pizza or maybe barbecue right off the grill to really embrace the experience.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

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