Erik Neilson on December 8, 2016 0 Comments With the holidays right around the corner, many people are already starting to plan meals for family get-togethers. For wine lovers, this means also putting together a list of wines to pick up for the festivities. While there are countless different options to consider when it comes to choosing holiday wines, spice is where it’s at if you’re looking to create great food pairings. When we think “spicy” wines, we think grapes like Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, just to name a few. Here are 10 peppery wines along those lines that will surely impress both you and your guests this holiday season. 1. Campuget 1753 Syrah Rhone Valley Syrah can be up there with some of the best wines in the world, and they often come with price tags to show it. Campuget 1753 Syrah, however, is an excellent example of great Syrah coming out of France that can be had very reasonably — typically around $15 or so. Featuring excellent potential for aging, this wine is loaded with intense aromas of spicy currants, cocoa and blackberries. Its smoky characteristics make it an obvious choice for ham, and at its price point, there’s no reason not to grab at least a few bottles to go around. 2. Ludovicus Tinto Garnacha Garnacha (also referred to as Grenache in much of the world) has an ever-growing following of people who swear by the grape, especially when it comes to pairing with spicy food. Hailing from Spain, Ludovicus Tinto Garnacha is an easy-drinking red that’s loaded with spicy floral notes, ripe, dark berries and even a hint of cherry pie lurking in the background. The limestone soil that the grapes are grown in surely contributes to the wine’s aromas of crushed rocks and minerals, and it carries through to showcase a beautiful finish. Spicy, yet subdued enough to be an instant crowd-pleaser. 3. Parducci True Grit Reserve Petite Sirah Petite Sirah is a grape that many people don’t get acquainted with until moving past some of the most popular grapes on the market, but once most get there, they never look back. A great value to be had in the world of Petite Sirah can be found in Parducci True Grit Reserve Petite Sirah. Technically a blend that consists of 8% Syrah, 1% Grenache and 91% Petite Sirah, the grape profile alone is enough to hint at an undeniable spiciness that doesn’t disappoint. With a big, jammy nose, Parducci True Grit Reserve Petite Sirah touches upon flavors and aromas such as mint, vanilla, blackberry and toasted hazelnuts. With plenty of oak to go around, this slightly different Petite Sirah is one worth seeking out. 4. McKinley Springs Horse Heaven Hills Malbec This Malbec out of Washington’s Columbia Valley is a stunner, and a surprise at that. Aged in 20% new French oak for a period of 18 months, McKinley Springs Horse Heaven Hills Malbec carries a hefty ABV of 14.4% and a rich, lush mouthfeel wrapped around notes of tobacco, leather and an intense amount of spice. With grippy tannins, this wine hopefully serves as an example of more Malbec to come out of Washington State in the future. Currently, the grape accounts for only 5.5% of the state’s production — let’s hope that changes. 5. Boneshaker Zinfandel When it comes to the ability to create spicy wines, the Zinfandel grape absolutely takes the cake. Boneshaker Zinfandel from Hahn Family Wines out of Lodi, California is a really fun wine, consisting of 87% Zin, 11% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s big to say the very least, framed by flavors of plums, baking spices, white pepper and vanilla. The nose is huge in notes of blackberry brambles and licorice, with more spice presenting itself upon each swirl. It’s just about the most perfect pairing for barbecue that one could ever ask for, but it also has a place on your holiday dinner table. 6. Waterbrook Syrah Syrah is loved for its ability to pair beautifully with steak, much due to the peppery finish it tends to be representative of. Waterbrook Syrah is an excellent example of a straightforward take on the grape that yields everything a person could want in good Syrah, and at an excellent price point of around $15. This 100% Syrah wine spends a significant amount of time on American, French and Hungarian oak, lending it the grippy tannins that take it all the way through it’s satisfying finish. The pepper is undoubtedly there, yet it’s refined enough to not get in the way or cloud the wine’s overall impression. For newbies to Syrah, this is an excellent route to take. 7. Alto Cinco Garnacha A 94% Garnacha wine rounded out by 6% Tempranillo, Alto Cinco Garnacha is from one of Spain’s four DO’s and hails from the village of Paniza. The area is home to some of the oldest Garnacha vines in the world, so it should come as no surprise that these wines are spicy beyond belief. Alto Cinco Garnacha bursts with raspberry, black pepper and vanilla, rounded out by hints of mocha that don’t yield until the very back of the finish. It’s an excellent value wine at under $20, and complexity wise, you won’t find much of a better option at such a price point. 8. HandCraft Petite Sirah Want a Petite Sirah that brings a good deal of spice into the picture without losing any of its jammier notes? Then HandCraft Petite Sirah is for you. Absolutely bursting with flavors and aromas of blackberries, stewed currants, plums and vanilla, it’s framed by a spicy, undeniable black pepper note that never dissipates. After spending 4-6 months on oak, this wine develops nice round characteristics that stick around until the very end. A steal at under $20. 9. Menage a Trois Malbec Malbec lovers know that “simple and tasty” is often the right path to take, and Menage a Trois Malbec is just that. Loaded with pleasant aromas such as blackberry and ripe cherry, the licorice notes in Menage a Trois Malbec are what really make it special. Add to this its spicy, almost prickly mouthfeel, and you’ve got a wonderful Malbec on your hands at a very good price.