This summer has been warmer than the past few. We have been hit with heat waves lasting several days that have brought temperatures over 100º F. In between we’ve enjoyed cooler temperatures in the 80s and 90s with mornings and evenings that cool off nicely. This is when we reach for red wine, otherwise it’s mostly rosé and white wine.
On one cool evening recently, inspired by a group of food-friendly Merlots we tasted at our local wine shop, I reached for a bottle of Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot which we received as a tasting sample. We took advantage of the cool weather to prepare a heartier meal than we would prepare in the blistering heat. The pairing was delicious.
2016 Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot — light ruby color in the glass with aromas of plums and red berries with hints of wood spice in the background. Plumy fruit flavors predominate with dusty earth and hints of dried herbs. The body is on the lighter side of medium with smooth tannins and a medium-length finish. 13.5% abv. SRP $11
This delightful 100% Merlot is from the Concha y Toro family of wines and provides excellent quality for the very reasonable price. It is light enough to be enjoyable in warm weather but still offers plenty of flavor.
Pizza is the perfect partner for this Merlot. I sautéed ground lamb with tomato sauce, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. These earthy flavors contrasted nicely with a dusting of chives and the minty yogurt topping added after the pizza came out of the oven. Pizza dough made from scratch always lends extra flavor and texture to our pizza. The weather is trending toward hot once again. I’ll be thinking about this rich pairing as I enjoy salads and lighter fare for a few days.