It’s the time of year when the sky is filled with colourful sparkles and the air is filled with pops and bangs. Yes, it is Bonfire Night and what better way of keeping warm whilst watching the fireworks than sipping from a glass of red wine.
If you have been lucky enough to be invited to a Bonfire Night party or even if you are just out in the back garden setting off some fireworks with your kids then you can add to the atmosphere of the evening by opening a bottle of appropriate red wine. On this occasion, do not worry too much about the quality of the wine (although the following red wine suggestions are undoubtedly all excellent!). It is all about the label and the message suggested by the wine.
For example, you could make any Bonfire Night party go with a bang by turning up with a bottle of El Bombero red wine. This Spanish wine from the hills of Carinena is made using grapes from old Garnacha vines and packs a mighty punch at 15% alcohol. Its intense flavours of blackberry, cherry and plum and its velvety smoothness will keep everyone warm and cosy in the chilly November night air. (Reviewed here.)
How about “BOOM BOOM!” Syrah by Charles Smith Wines in the USA’s Washington State? This red wine is described by the winery as a “BIG black cherry fruit bomb” exploding with flavour. It should be a perfect way to complement the evening’s noisy and explosive entertainment!
Get everyone in the mood for fireworks with a bottle of Rocket Science Proprietary Red wine from Caldwell Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley. This wine is a blend of around two thirds Syrah with the remaining third made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tannat, Carmenere and Cabernet Franc. With a bouquet of cherry and cocoa and a taste featuring characteristics of cherry, raspberry, chocolate and plum this wine has been flying high since its first vintage in 2002. Look out for the 2007 vintage which has been described as “epic”.
Perhaps the most obvious bottle of red wine to take to a Bonfire Night party is the Fireworks Red from the Adirondack Winery based at Lake George in New York State, USA. This Merlot has been described as smooth and silky with hints of brown spice, dark berry and herbs. It has won a couple of awards and at 12% alcohol it should not leave you with a morning hangover.
Alternatively take a bottle of Bonfire Vineyard Zinfandel from the Nickel and Nickel winery in California’s Sonoma County. This ripe and jammy red wine from the Dry Creek Valley appellation has plenty of raspberry and blackberry characteristics with hints of vanilla, black pepper and cedar.
Fire is always a theme of Bonfire Night so how about a bottle of Zenaida Cellars Fire Sign Red Wine? Zenaida Cellars is a winery in Paso Robles, California and the Fire Sign Cuvee is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel and is full of black fruit, anise and coffee characteristics.
With plenty of bangers of both the firework and sausage variety around on Bonfire Night you could do worse than take along a bottle of Juice Banger Tempranillo-Garnacha. This easy drinking Spanish red wine from the Carinena region is soft and fruity with a flavour full of cherry, berry and plum.
If you have the responsibility for lighting the fuse on the fireworks you may want to take along a bottle of red wine from Fuse Wines, a group of winemakers in California’s Napa Valley. The Fuse winemakers work with a number of Napa Valley growers and have given a modern twist to the traditional Bordeaux style of winemaking. They produce a Cabernet Sauvignon blended red wine but use Syrah as the other main grape in the blend. They claim this wine will “ignite your senses”!
An alternative approach to providing red wine for Bonfire Night is to go for the sparklers. Hand the fizzing sticks to your children and pop the cork on one of the many sparkling red wines available from Australia and Italy. Lambrusco is one of those wines sent to the hall of shame by wine aficionados following its popularity in the 1970s but for wine drinkers who enjoy a light, slightly sparkling red wine it can be ideal. Lambrusco is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and there are a number of varieties available. Be aware that Lambrusco can be dry (secco) or sweet (amabile).
Australia is the specialist producer of sparkling red wine. They love it in Oz whereas we tend to view it with suspicion in the UK but it is well worth a try. Shiraz tends to be the grape used most commonly but some wineries are producing sparkling reds from grapes such as Pinot Noir or Chambourcin. Some of Australia’s top wineries produce a sparkling red wine – look out for bottles by Andrew Garrett, d’Arenberg, Grant Burge and Seppelt.
If all else fails, seek out a bottle of red wine from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region, cross out the H and replace it with an F and claim that you are paying homage to the man who started the tradition of Bonfire Night!
Image by somewhereintheworldtoday.