Beef stew, pasta with meatballs, ribs, BBQ, Tuscan bean stew, meatloaf, boeuf bourguignons and more – winter dishes in need of matching to a bolder red wine with a decent price. Fortunately, local merchants, warehouse stores, online flash sale sites and even your favorite grocery store might have the answer and from many countries as evidenced by results from recent tastings.
In the following dozen choices, all with good quality to dollar spent, alcohols range from 13.5 to 15.5 percent and prices from $13 to $34, with wines from California Australia, Argentina and Italy.
$13 Calif. 2019 Bonterra Vineyards Merlot. Mid-garnet, viscous (14.2 alc.); red fruit, raspberry jam nose; dry; mid acids/tannins; decent varietal finish, slightly rough. w/appetizers. 15 UC Davis scale, 88 other scales.
Mendoza, 2019 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec High Mountain Vines, $15. Dark garnet; black fruit, berries, pepper, hyacinth nose; mid-acids/tannins; medium body; good Malbec fruit; long balanced (13.5 alc.) varietal finish. w/picnic and party fare. 15.5/89.
$15 value Barossa Valley, Australia, 2018 Schild Estate Shiraz. Mid-dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); peppery, red fruity, blackberry jam, ripe grape nose; mid-body; balanced; medium tannins; good Shiraz fruit; long fruity semi-tight finish. w/beef. 16-16.5/90-91.
Value Napa Cabernet 2020 Acclaimed Rutherford Cabernet ($16 Costco). Dark purple, viscous (14.5 alc.); red fruit, herbaceous, ripe grape, berry and wood nose; mid+ tannins; medium-full body; semi-long semi-rough red fruit and wood finish. w/beef stew. 15.5 UC Davis scale, 89 other scales. 15.5/89.
Lodi, Calif. 2018 Michael-David Vineyards Petite Petit (Sirah), $16. Dark purple, viscous (14.5 alc.); black fruit, black pepper, cedar, prune nose; dry; high tannins; full bodies; deep fruit; long hot woody finish. BBQ, pasta wine. 15/88.
Value Italian blend 2018 Argiano Non Confunditur Toscana IGT, $18. 50% Cabernet, 30% Merlot, 20% Sangiovese. Mid-garnet, viscous (14% alc.); herbaceous, red fruit, berry and wood nose; mid-plus acids, tannins; moderate depth; long semi-hot, semi-chewy, berry and wood finish. w/meatloaf. 16/90.
2019 Seghesio Family Vineyards Zinfandel Sonoma County, $20. Mid-garnet, viscous (14.8 alc.); ripe grape, fig, red fruit, bramble, blackberry jam nose; mid-plus acids; full tannins; mid-full body, good Zinfandel fruit; long semi-chewy finish. w/beef. 16-16.5 UC Davis scale, 90-91 other scales. 16-16.5/90-91.
Mendoza, Valle de Uco, 2017 Viñalba Malbec Gran Reserva, $18. Bigger style. Dark garnet, viscous (14.5 alc.); ripe grape, plum, crushed almonds, pepper and wood nose; mid-plus acids; full tannins; deep fruit; long, hot, chewy, berry and wood finish. w/BBQ, ribs. 16/90.
Lodi, Calif., 2018 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Terra Alta Vineyard, $24. Mid-ruby, viscous (14.8 alc.); red fruit nose, wood, brambles, pomegranate; mid+ acids, tannins; medium body; cherry, red fruit, semi-tight finish. w/pizza, pasta. 15.5-16/89-90.
Lodi, Calif., 2018 Michael-David Vineyards Zinfandel Earthquake, $24. Dark purple, viscous (15.5 alc.); ripe grape, brambles, wood, blackberry, prune, fig nose; mid-body; mid-plus tannins; deep fruit; long semi-chewy, berry and wood finish (aged in American oak, 83%; French, 17%). w/beef, burgers, grill. 16-16.5/90-91.
Lodi, Calif., 2018 Markus Wine Co. Zinfandel Essenzo (90% Zin, 10% Syrah), $35. Mid-ruby, viscous (15.5 alc.); red fruit, ripe grape, plum, wood and raspberry nose; mid-body; balanced; mid+ tannins; long fruity semi-chewy finish; good Zinfandel flavor. w/ribs. 16-16.5/90-91.
Mendoza, Valle de Uco, 2008 LTU Malbec ($44 in 2012). Similar to previous notes. Dark purple, Port-like; viscous (14.8 alc.); ripe grape, prune, berry and jam nose; mid-plus acids, tannins; big fruit extract; deep; long fruity finish, hint of wood, a touch hot. w/beef stew. 17/92.