Hygge (pronounced HEW-gah) is a Danish word that translates roughly as “well-being.” It describes the purposeful creation of a cozy indoor atmosphere, with candlelight, glowing hearths, close friends, good wine and food that help them through their long, dark winters.
Around the world in the north, it’s the season to drink hearty wines, warming wines, wines with a little boost of alcohol to give us comfort and the will to carry on. Wines that might seem too heavy in August.
It’s time for comfort wines and the comfort foods that go with them — meatloaf, mac ’n’ cheese, beef-and-bean chili, savory stews with their beckoning dose of umami.
But what about the South? It’s having the best weather of the year. A bit cool, maybe, but nothing a light jacket won’t handle. The time when you can tell the tourists from the locals because the locals dig their fur coats out of cold storage and the tourists are in speedos.
So in the south as well, it’s the season for hearty wines. The best chance, in any case. It’s as cool as it gets.
We can even help it out a bit. My favorite custom when February arrives in South Florida has been to turn the AC as low as it will get and build a modest but festive fire in the fireplace. And then pour myself a glass of port.
It’s our version of hygge.
So, north and south, we’re all in this together. To that end, here are some nice hearty wines to bring us all together.
1. 2012 Clayhouse Estate Old Vines Petite Sirah, Red Cedar Vineyard, Paso Robles, California, 13.9 percent alcohol (100 percent petite sirah): inky hue, aromas and flavors of black raspberries, black pepper and dark chocolate, full-bodied and hearty, soft tannins; $25.
2. 2012 Whiplash Red Wine Blend, by Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, California, 14.5 percent alcohol (24 percent syrah, 21 percent petite sirah, 19 percent barbera, 11 percent zinfandel, 8 percent cabernet sauvignon, 6 percent cabernet franc, 6 percent primitive, 5 percent merlot): dark hue, floral aromas, flavors of black plums and dark chocolate, rich and smooth; $15.
3. 2010 Amarone Selezione Castagnedi, by Antonio Castagnedi, Mezzane di Sotto, 15 percent alcohol, (70 percent corvine, 20 percent rondinella, 5 percent croatina, 5 percent oseleta): deep ruby hue, aromas and flavors of black plums, black pepper and anise, full body, ripe tannins, long finish; $45.
4. 2012 Edmeades Zinfandel, “Perli Vineyard,” Mendocino Ridge, 15.5 percent alcohol (81 percent zinfandel, 16 percent merlot, 3 percent syrah): aromas and flavors of red raspberries and spice, rich and hearty, soft tannins; $31.
5. 2011 Tomero Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina. 15 percent alcohol (100 percent malbec): hint of oak, aromas and flavors of sweet cherries and cloves, full body, ripe tannins; $25.
6. 2012 Three Sticks Chardonnay, Durell Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, 14.8 percent alcohol (100 percent chardonnay): rich oak, ripe, lush, intensely fruity flavors of ripe peaches and spice, smooth, full body, buttery; $50.
7. Graham’s 20-Year Tawny Port, Douro Valley, Portugal, 20 percent alcohol: amber hue, aromas and flavors of orange peel and hazelnuts, sweet and rich, long finish; $60.
8. 2012 Valley of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, 14.4 percent alcohol (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): aromas and flavors of black cherries, licorice and black pepper, rich and hearty, big, ripe tannins, long finish; $35.