Wine: Warm temps, hot sips

From the April 17, 2014 edition

You know that feeling you get when temperatures start to rise? Suddenly, you want to get outside and grill meat, potatoes … anything under the wonderfully warm sun.

Sure, there are plenty of great wines to have with grilled food. But have you tried garnacha? It’ll match that warm-your-belly, smoky flavor sip-for-bite.

This 2012 Garnacha de Fuego ($9 at The Wine Guy Pickerington) is an entry-level option.

Garnacha (also known as grenache) is a popular Spanish red grape that’s most often used in red blends. One-hundred-percent garnacha isn’t impossible to find, though — and as this bottle proves, it isn’t necessarily expensive, either. The Garnacha de Fuego is the most popular and palatable, according to the manager at The Wine Guy, and its striking bottle can be picked out on shelves across the city. And worth sampling.

This bottle might not have the complexity of more expensive garnachas, but it doesn’t lack flavor. The first few sips tasted strongly of cherries and pepper; the scent on the nose was somewhat tannic.

And maybe the label is skewing my perspective, but I definitely think I pick up on some smoky flavors. The aftertaste isn’t much different than after eating some fire-roasted tomato salsa — a lingering spiciness and a bit smoky.

With a bit of time and a bit of food (an imitation — aka homemade — Northstar veggie burger, with all of its smoky goodness), the wine mellowed out a bit and became quite smooth. Chips and salsa — or something just off the grill — would have been equally amazing.

Hey, summer hasn’t even started. We have a feeling you have some ideas of your own.

Photo by Meghan Ralston