While Mother Nature may not know it, it’s still winter in Northern Nevada and the perfect time to try out some hearty, rich red wines. This is no time for a flimsy pinot noir or – gah! – a rose’! This is the time of year when we make thick beef stew, eat stick-to-your-bones oatmeal for breakfast, and drink a wine so thick you almost have to chew it (overboard? But I bet you get the picture.).
So while at Trader Joe’s today, I scanned the shelves for a petite sirah for dinner (oh, um, I mean to go with dinner, of course. Because I would never have wine FOR dinner. Never… ever…).
I found a 2013 Concannon Petite Sirah for $6.99 (is there anything better than Trader Joe’s wine section? I think not!) and couldn’t wait to get that baby home. I love petite sirah because it belies its name: there’s nothing petite about it (more on this varietal’s big personality here).
Petite sirah grapes are actually a distant cousin to syrah grapes, so don’t be confused and think this is the same varietal. Syrah is a French grape grown worldwide (called shiraz when it comes from Australia) while petite sirah is primarily grown in California and tends to be big, bold, and jammy.
It’s those qualities – big, bold, and jammy – that makes it a perfect sipper on a cold winter night.
This particular wine from Concannon is dark and thick and tastes like a handful of juicy red grapes warmed in the sunshine. It has a tiny bite of tannin adding to the feeling that you’ve just walked through a vineyard and swiped a cluster of warm grapes off the vine. There’s also a hint of smoky tobacco (that’s a quality I like in dark reds, and I promise it doesn’t taste like an ashtray).
Years ago, some retired friends who can afford any wine they want introduced me to Concannon. They sang the praises of this California winery that produces fantastic budget wines, and so far I haven’t been able to prove them wrong. Concannon consistently makes great wines year after year, most for under $10.
The petite sirah is no exception. It’s the perfect complement to a cold, rainy night. It’s one that would pair well with a grilled steak, or pasta with a sausage tomato sauce. Or just sip it on its own. You know, if dinner is taking too long to cook and you need some sustenance in the form of liquid grapes. If you do that sort of thing, which of course I don’t.