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Summer Red Wines for Fog Heads

Living in San Francisco in the summer is a challenge for some. Maybe it’s my memories of steamy, sweltering sleepless New York nights, but I actually love the fog—I even live in the Outer Richmond, famed fog belt of the city. Why relish the fog? For one it makes San Francisco a year round natural for bold juicy reds.

While the rest of the country is sitting in inner tubes with watery beers and white wines with ice cubes, we can enjoy the same hearty reads year round. Watery beer and icy whites just don’t go with all the great classic summer foods. Grilled Tri-Tip? Barbecue? Roasted Veggies? These all scream for big or at least medium bodied reds, and in return big reds really NEED food to show their best. Opt for big and bold but with bright acidity. This list of wines are also warming, which conjuring summery thoughts even in the fog belt.

France: Red Bordeaux
Red Bordeaux does not have to be expensive. I've discovered some amazing values: hearty blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot that will play well with grilled meats and poultry. For a great value, try Chateau Bonnet Rouge 2007, Bordeaux. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it’s refreshingly balanced in acidity with a nice character of ripe red cherry and hints of cola and tobacco. Not overpowering so it can go with everything from poultry, pork or steak. (About $14)

Italy: Montefalco Rosso
I recently went on a trip to visit the region of Montefalco where I was beat down by the tannins of their local grape Sagrantino. But I kind of enjoyed the torture! The area also makes a less potent, more drinkable, wine that still has firm tannins. Both are proof that wine in Italy is meant to go with food, plain and simple. Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2006 is super dense in color with intense notes of blackberry, currant and cranberry and hints of cocoa powder. Mostly made of Sangiovese it’s still not shy about its tannin, great with food, rare steak, lamb chops, a nice aged Parmesan. (About $22)

Spain: Ribera del Duero
I recently conducted a tasting at Prima in Walnut Creek where we tasted a selection of wines from Ribera del Duero in Spain. What’s exciting about the region is the amazing diversity of wines they produce. Their heavier wines can age for a long time, but try the deliciously juicy O. Fournier Urban 2006 and experience an immediate flavor sensation. Ideal with grilled octopus (served with a romesco sauce at Prima), this wine can go with whatever you are in the mood for. Juicy and balanced, moderate tannins and great length. (About $14, available at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant).

Rebecca Chapa, owner of Tannin Management, is a wine and spirits educator and consultant living in San Francisco. She writes about wine, spirits travel and music on her personal blog.