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This one is for you, guys!

One of the keys in helping people with wine is to appeal to the widest possible audience. The same applies to a wine column. Grape Sense has always focused on affordable wines but has kept the focus pretty diverse.

grape-sense-logoSometimes though a particular focus is helpful. There is a term in the wine world that can be very misleading – ‘feminine wine.’ Generally, the term means a lighter bodied wine with a light hand on the alcohol and mouthfeel.

I’ve never heard the term ‘masculine wine’ in my 8-10 years learning about wine. Occasionally, the term muscular is used, usually meaning big and bold. Well, today men let’s punch somebody in the mouth. Let’s talk about big, bold manly wine that makes you say “damn!”

There is enough cold weather left in the early days of 2017 to go big with your wine choices. Big wines go with big foods. Any discussion of big wines begins and ends with the “king of grapes” or Cabernet Sauvignon. Similar to never hearing about masculine wine I’ve never heard of a queen of grapes.

muscle-wine-illustrationCabernet is the most-planted red wine grape in the world. Cabernet is big fruit, big mouthfeel and big tannins on the finish to stand up to big food. Cabernet should be enjoyed with bloodied red meat, charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside. Growl!

Cabs can pair nicely with big bold, beef-based, stews as well. But nothing quite matches the muscle power of beef and Cab. Good value Cabs are J. Lohr, Robert Mondavi, Clos du Val, Louis Martini. You can usually find one of those on the grocery or liquor store shelf. Most of those wines sell for around $15. Keep in mind gents, big red wine often means big alcohol so choose carefully.

There is no more enjoyable pairing – maybe even with fewer grunts – is red wine and chocolate. Cab is pretty big for most chocolates and not the best pick for pairing. Get some good dark chocolate, about 70 percent dark, and pair it with a Zinfandel. Zin brings bigger and softer fruit than a cab with a nice peppery finish. Try Three Deadly Zins or Consentino Cigar Zin as a good pairing. If you have trouble finding either of those look for a Zin from Lodi, California. There are several good ones under $20.

For another choice I’d suggest Syrah. Washington Syrah is big, rich, smooth and fabulous value wine.

As you develop your wine and chocolate tastes try experimenting with the wine, sure, but experiment with the chocolate as well. The sweet chocolate bars at the checkout counter won’t cut it guys. Kroger stores are now carrying Lindt chocolate – a pretty decent and affordable choice. Experiment by going from 60-80 percent cacao. You might be surprised with the differences.

Real men drink red wine. Be bold and give the big boys a chance.