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Italian Reds
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All red wine is not the same and whilst Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon remain the ever-present glass of punchy reds there is a whole world of other, less in your face wine, that gets overlooked.
At a tasting I ran recently the Italian reds were a resounding success, even for people used to the far bigger new world flavours of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon! Although not all Italian reds are the same, northern Italian wines share a freshness and juiciness that you struggle to find elsewhere. 
So this month we have two wines perfect to deal with two November scenarios :

Brusco di Barbi for Sunday Lunches
This is a Tuscan gem, from the same hills and grape as the well-known Chianti. The label is all black and red but the wine inside is fragrant and fresh. Unlike those new world fruit bombs this is layered with flavours of sour cherry, chocolate and dried fruits and has an altogether lighter feel in the mouth. The acidity is much higher and the tannins a bit softer than you might expect which makes it the perfect complement to roast lamb, popped in the oven before you head out for one of those soul rousing winter walks around Arthurs Seat.  For me it's the epitome of Italian red, light and rich at once.
Great Western Wines £11.50

Gran Passione for long, dark nights
This is the wine that at that tasting blew people away.  Unlike the Brusco di Barbi it is opulently rich. A wine to sip and swirl once you've pulled up the drawbridge and shut the outside world away.  You still get some of that cherry flavour but this time it's dark cherries dipped in dark chocolate with a suitably velvety texture. A hint of sweetness makes this perfect with slow braised meats, but actually, it's delicious just on its own. It's made in a similar way to Amarone, by drying some of the grapes in the sun to intensify the flavour, but is a fraction of the price.  Watch out though, it's so seductive you forget the nearly 15% alcohol content and may wake up wishing you'd had a bit more control!
WoodWinters £12.50 (get it whilst it's still there!)
For more wine chat  The Pocket Guide to Wine by Nikki Welch, available in bookshops and winetubemap.co.uk

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