Too cold for rosé on the terrace? Try these lighter reds instead

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May is often the time I write about lovely light whites and rosés to savor while enjoying the spring bloom.

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But after a chilling April, I’m going to play it conservatively and focus on lighter reds instead. These are not bruisers packed with tannins and intense dark fruit flavors. Instead, these reds feature high acidity and softer tannins. Many of them would benefit from 10-15 minutes of chilling in the fridge if they were kept in a warmer part of the house.

Barbera, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Montepulciano, Gamay, Zweigelt and Zinfandel are some examples of red grapes that can produce very pleasant lighter wines that leave you wanting more. Here are a few to try.



Montepulciano of Abruzzo

Abruzzo, Italy

The Spinelli winery, launched in 1973 by Vincenzo Spinelli, has experienced steady and spectacular growth over its 49-year history.

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Located in the Frentane hills of Abruzzo, almost directly east of Rome, near the east coast of Italy, the winery has seen more and more family members join the group over the years. Today, Vincenzo’s sons, Carlo and Adriano, manage the company and its production of around 580,000 cases of wine per year.

Montepuliciano is the main red grape of Abruzzo. It produces accessible and courageous wines with lots of fruit. Deep ruby ​​in colour, this version seduces with flavors of cherry, strawberry and red licorice, as well as notes of cedar, vanilla, raspberry and a hint of allspice.

It’s juicy and crisp, with ripe tannins and enough acidity to balance the sweetness nicely. A great weekday wine.

Price: About $16. Look for it at AZ Liquor Store, Co-op Wines Spirits Beer in Midtown, Highlander Wine and Spirits in Richmond Plaza, Oak and Vine in Inglewood, Sobeys Liquor and Wine and Beyond in Signal Hill.

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To drink: Now. Try it with pizza, burgers or grilled chicken with barbecue sauce. screw cap; 13 percent alc./vol.

Flat Rock Cellars


Pinot Noir

Twenty Mile Bank, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Flat Rock Cellars entered a new phase last summer when winemaker David Sheppard stepped away from day-to-day winemaking after a career that spanned 40 vintages, including the last four at the Niagara winery.

Sheppard came out on top, being named Ontario Winemaker of the Year by the Ontario Wine Awards. He continues as a consultant to the winery but has handed over the reins to his understudy Allison Findlay.

This pinot noir highlights Sheppard’s vast skills. It’s medium-bodied, with lingering tannins and a long, lingering finish. Balanced and crisp, flavors range from plum and black raspberry to strawberry and black cherry. It is a playful palate pleasure.

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Price: About $28. Ask about it at the Signature and Altadore locations of Crowfoot Wine and Spirits, Riverfront Wines, Silver Springs Liquor Store, Sobeys Liquor in Canmore, Wine and Beyond’s Sage Hill and Signal Hill and Zyn the Wine Market.

To drink: In the next four years. Try it with duck, salmon or pork loin. screw cap; 12.5% ​​alc./vol.



Figure 8 Cabernet Merlot

British Columbia

Calliope is a second label of wines produced by renowned Okanagan Valley winery, Burrowing Owl Estate. Calliope wines, which use grapes from the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, are meant to be fruity and enjoyed young.

The 2019 vintage in the South Okanagan got off to an early start, with moderate summer temperatures and a cool fall, resulting in a balanced red with ripe fruit and refreshing acidity.

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Medium-bodied and dry, with moderate tannins, the wine displays flavors of black cherry, cassis, vanilla, spice, plum and mocha. It’s mostly Merlot (73 percent), more Cabernet Franc (12 percent), equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and touches of Petit Verdot and Malbec.

Price: About $29. It was sold at BK Liquor Store in Bridgeland, Bridgeland Liquor Store, Crowfoot Wine & Spirits in West Market Square, 5 Vines Wine Craft Beer and Spirits, Highlander Wine and Spirits in Seton and Aspen, Liquor Depot in Mount Royal, Market Wines in Calgary Farmers Market on Blackfoot Trail SE and Willow Park Wines & Spirits.

To drink: Now. Enjoy it with meat lasagna, grilled lamb, or barbecued pork or beef burritos. screw cap; 13.5% alc./vol.

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The Gemella

Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy

The Viberti family ran a popular restaurant in Barolo, northern Italy, when Antonio Viberti decided in 1927 to start making house wine to sell to customers. Nearly a century later, the family runs two local restaurants and a winery in the scenic area known for its spectacularly good red wines made from the Nebbiolo grape.

While the light-skinned and surprisingly tannic Nebbiolo gets the best of Piedmont, the region produces delicious wines from a number of varietals, including Barbera and Dolcetto. The Viberti family, which produces several great Barolos, has also adopted the barbera. In fact, the winery is the only one to cultivate barbera vines in the commune of Barolo, according to third-generation winemaker Claudio Viberti.

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Gemella Barbera d’Alba 2020 exhibits medium ruby-violet hues, with aromas and flavors of blueberry, cassis, strawberry, raspberry, red licorice, with hints of all spices and mint. It has soft tannins and high acidity, producing a refreshing wine with depth.

Price: About $30. Check it out at BSW Liquor, Craft Cellars, Willow Park Wines & Spirits and Wine and Beyond in Township and Signal Hill.

To drink: In the next four or five years. Try it with salt cod, grilled meats or a milder blue cheese like Gorgonzola. Cork; 14 percent alc./vol.

Contact Darren Oleksyn at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter or Instagram. Are you looking for a specific wine? Because wine stocks are always on the move, it’s a good idea to call a store to confirm they have it. A search on can give you an idea of ​​which stores have carried the wines.

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About Michael Brafford

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