Wine Guy: A month of celebratory wine days

Who knew there was so much wine to celebrate in November?

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Days come, days go. And admittedly, while busy preparing for the upcoming holiday season — more mentally at this point — we still can’t quite get into putting up the holiday lights or putting on the Mariah Carey holiday album. Somehow a number of celebratory wine days passed us by. Who knew there was so much wine to celebrate in November? Better belatedly recognized than never, and fortunately all three dates herald bold reds that will pair well with the winter ahead.

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El Tocador 2019 Old Vines Tempranillo, Spain

($13.99 on sale until Nov. 25, #421725)

International Tempranillo Day was Nov. 12. Tempranillo is a fantastic pour this time of year. If you still happen to be grilling outdoors, it tends to go great with smoke and char. And if you’ve already hibernated, the gutsy red nicely takes to roasting and braising as well. Spain remains Tempranillo’s heartland, and while not from Rioja, El Tocador offers a value-minded example of Spanish Tempranillo. Pouring an intense purple-garnet, there is ample ripe berry and dark fruit complemented by sun-baked earth and herbs. Robust and straightforward, it finishes quite fresh with a touch of anise twang. 

Bottom line: B-, Food versatile, from steaks to ratatouille

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Lake Sonoma Winery 2019 Zinfandel, California

($24.99 on sale until Nov. 25, #355719) 

National Zinfandel Day was Nov. 15. No idea why it’s national versus international, but presumably it’s to recognize this boisterous grape outside its ceremonial U.S. party origin. This redolent Zinfandel is an all-out, blackberry, briar patch, and baking-spice fruit bomb of a wine that is unapologetic in its aim to coat tastebuds with comforting goodness. Plush and full-bodied, bedecked with toasty oak from longtime barrel aging (29 months) and a vibe of cinnamon hearts, this is a rich red ready to marry with fulsome flavours: think roast lamb or a hearty pot of chili. 

Bottom line: B, Winter-warming red

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(oops) Spicy Splendour 2020 Carménère, Chile

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($12.99 on sale until Nov. 25, #72777)

Carménère Day is Nov. 24. Like most wine days, this one was launched by a marketing board to hype a particular grape. In this case it was Wines of Chile looking to signify the role of rediscovering Carménère (the lost Bordeaux variety) in Chilean vineyards — after largely being mistaken as Merlot in the country. It’s a fun story, but more importantly Chilean Carménère often offers solid value in robust reds. And (oops) offers a great entry point, pouring a bright purple garnet and full of approachable ripe dark fruit, smokiness, and sweet spice. It’s a supple, soft, and eminently approachable style overall. Bring on pizza or wild mushroom ragù. 

Bottom line: B-, Decant for best results.

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The Swirl: Light up the Vines in Summerland

Get ready, Light up the Vines returns for its 13th year to Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive. Kicking off Friday, Nov.24 with festivities at downtown Summerland’s Festival of Lights, the sparkling lights and fun then head to the wineries, breweries, cider houses, and distilleries of surrounding Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive for three evenings of holiday cheer and festive experiences from 5-9 p.m. on Nov. 25, and Dec. 1-2. For complete details head to 

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