Whether you’re dealing with snow, or sleet, hail, or Arctic rainstorms, red wine is the ticket. Toss some spices in it, put it on the stove and heat gently – and you’ve got mulled wine. Recipes here. photo of a large cauldron of mulled wine over a fire.

If you prefer your wine unspiced, but you want it to warm you up from the inside, take a nice big red – a Zinfandel, Syrah, or Cabernet – and put it with a bowl of chili, or a hearty minestrone soup. Pasta, or steak and potatoes also work to bring your internal body temp up. If you’re calorie counting, go with a clear broth – a chicken or vegetable-based soup, with an Asian flair. I like adding sliced ginger to my clear soups – gives a kick of heat, and the red wine works with the heat nicely.

So today, here are two Syrahs, purchased at Vons during their amazing 30% off sale (and I say that totally tongue-in-cheek), and a French red blend that I’m still remembering happily.

label for Alexander Vineyards Syrah 2008Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah 2008  Sonoma County, CA, Wetzel Family Estate Regularly $16.70; on sale for $10.99    Alcohol 14% by Volume

On the Label: “This 2008 Estate Syrah shows the value of having an experienced winemaker with a deft hand for knowing how to best compliment what the vineyard delivers. Intense work in the vineyard, particularly necessary to get the best from this varietal, yielded lush fruit. In the tradition of the great wines of the Rhone, Wiinemaker Kevin Hall then blended in a good dose of old vine Grenache, adding some breadth to the wine, and a small amount of Viognier to soften the tannins and brighten the aromas.

“This wine exhibits and expressive nose of black cherries and violets and flavors of blackberry jam, strawberry and vanilla. Uncork a bottle to serve with a hearty beef stew and discover why our historic family-owned winery on the homestead of pioneer Cyrus Alexander continues to be recognized for producing superb estate wines that are superbly priced.”

My Take: I had been wanting to try an Alexander Valley wine for awhile, but it was too expensive – usually much closer to the $20 mark than the $10 mark. So finding it at $10.99 seemed like a good deal.

It was better than a good deal. This was a delicious wine, full in the mouth, nice and juicy and complex. The age on it added depth that I am sorely missing in all the 2010 wines I’ve been tasting lately. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any more of the 2008, otherwise I’d have bought some more!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~  Why didn’t this get the  “Slut” label? I’m not sure, but my notes say VVD so there you go!

Qupe Syrah 2009 Central Coast, California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume;  Regularly label for the 2009 Qupe Syrah$16.99 at Vons, on sale for $11.89

On the Label:  Qupe. Syrah. Central Coast. www.qupe.com (and no, I’m not kidding! LOVE it!).

My Take: This was a lush wine. Not as quite as deep as the Alexander, it did have more of a spiciness to it, which I personally love. It smelled nice and juicy but the fruit didn’t hit you in the face – it was much more subdued than that.  If you can find it on sale, definitely give it a try.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ 

photo of Bon Midi Red Wine

thanks to http://cheapwinesnobs.wordpress.com for the photo!

Bon Midi RED 2010  South of France Pays d’Herault  55% Merlot, 45% Grenache Alcohol 12% by Volume Regularly priced at $3.99 at Fresh & Easy

On the Label: “Producing some of France’s finest modern wines, the Midi region has everything French winegrowers need to make great wines. This is Cezanne country, the land of great artists and great wines, where the landscape is covered with sunflowers, rows of lavender and lush vineyards.

“A rich, full bodied red with blackcurrant fruit, chocolate and pepper aromas. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy  on its own, or with barbecued meat dishes or spicy pasta. Made from Merlot and Grenache grapes grown in the premium vineyards across the Midi region. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to 2 years after purchase.”

My Take: I loved this wine. We had Bison burgers at home, and this wine was the perfect accompaniment. It also reminded me of driving in the Netherlands and stopping at a gas station – we picked up two bottles of French wine for about $3 a piece, and they were some of the best wines we had all trip.

This is a wine to share. To keep around on the off chance you’ll have company, or to open when nothing else seems quite right. It’s a warm, ready, willing and easy wine to drink right now, no matter what the weather, and considering its a 2010, that shocked me.

My Rating: ~Very Good ~ Excellent Price~ Run, don’t walk, and stock up on some of this. You never know when I’ll be dropping by!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Demon HUNT coming soon!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, Very Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!