Father’s Day is coming, and getting dad a special bottle of wine to celebrate his awesome dadness might just be an ideal gift. But what wine do you buy? In the summertime I prefer a rosé, and while that might be okay for some dads, that just doesn’t feel, to me, like a dad wine. So what wine feels right for Father’s Day? A wine that stands up to a steak off the grill or maybe even some BBQ ribs. A wine that’s bold, complex, and deep—just like some dads can be—is probably the perfect choice.
In years past, big, bold wines used to need years of cellaring after release to be drinkable, and nobody wants to give a gift that can’t be enjoyed for a decade or more. While cellar aging today adds to the nuance of many wines, by no means is it any longer mandatory. Between viticulture advances and ever-improving winemaking techniques, many bold wines are drinkable and enjoyable today right off the shelf.
Here, for dad, are three wines at different price points from different regions.
A Rhône Could Be Just Right
From the largest appellation in the northern Rhône Valley, Crozes Hermitage is from Paul Jaboulet Aîné, which has owned the Domaine de Thalabert since 1834, and is the oldest vineyard in the appellation. Jeb Dunnuck, a renowned wine critic and expert in Rhône wines, writes of the magical terroir of this vineyard that it “always delivers a wild, opulent, gamey style of wine.” Sounds perfect for dear old dad.
The latest vintage is at Binny’s for $34. The 2019 is rich and complex, showing off black plums, blackberries and black olives. Pair this wine with duck, lamb or wild game.
Zin for Him
When I think of big wines, zinfandel comes to mind. While this variety can be made in a range of styles, to me, zin is a big boy. Perhaps my favorite U.S. vineyard for zinfandel is Monte Rosso. Located high on the Northwest side of the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma, this vineyard was originally planted in the 1880s. The terroir of the vineyard offers wines of bright acidity and intense minerality. Add this to zinfandel and you get a big, bold, yet balanced wine that’s perfect with food.
The name Peterson has long been associated with zinfandel from Monte Rosso, starting with the legendary producer Ravenswood. Heading up the current generation of Peterson wine makers is Bedrock Wine Co. owner-winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson. This winemaker literally grew up around zinfandel and his Bedrock Monte Rosso zinfandel is spectacular. The 2020 bottling, available at Binny’s for $75, shows mouthwatering red fleshy fruit, orange zest, cola, and baking spice.
As far as food pairing goes, when I think zinfandel, I think BBQ. Ribs, pulled pork, and even brisket pair amazingly well with this fantastic wine.
If Dad Likes Cab…
Of course, we can’t put together a list of big red wines for dad without offering a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Napa is pricey territory and with so many new makers out there selling wines well into the three figures, selecting a Napa Cab should not be taken lightly. So why take a chance on something that you’ve never tasted? Go for a classic. One of my favorites is Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley. In 1978, Randy Dunn purchased a few acres of vineyards high up on Howell Mountain. Today, Dunn Farms grows on just over forty acres on that mountain. Dunn produces only two wines, both one hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Howell Mountain Cabernet, the flagship of the brand, is strictly made only with fruit from Howell Mountain. It’s pricey—$170 per bottle—and limited in production. You can save a few bucks by buying the Dunn Napa Valley, made with Howell Mountain fruit blended with some from vines on the valley floor. This blending softens the bracing tannins of the Mountain terroir and makes the wine more approachable. The Dunn Napa Valley 2019 is a beast, showing grippy tannin, dark mixed berries, lavender, sweet baking spices and cocoa. At $110 a bottle, it’s not cheap, but you get way more than you’re paying for.
And the perfect food pairing for this wine is a steak off the grill.
You May Want to Refrigerate that Red
One tip for these big wines. Often, people recommend serving red wine at room temp. That’s too warm. You want to serve red wine at cellar temp, around sixty-five degrees. If you aren’t removing the wine from temperature control before serving it, simply put it in the refrigerator for fifteen or twenty minutes to bring the temp down a bit.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!