It is the dead of winter in Southwest Florida – low temperatures reaching in to the 50s, sometimes the 40s. Highs in the mid 70s or less – brrr.

This a great time for wines that warm you from the inside.

7 Deadly Zins is a very available bottle with a value price. This popular wine is produced by Michael David Winery and is made with zinfandel grapes from Lodi, Calif. Michael David is well known for exquisite wine making, being dedicated to the fruit and the craft at the same time.

7 Deadly Zins is an entry-level wine from Michael David with lush flavors of wild berry, spice and black berry compote. When paired with a slow-cooked dish like pot roast or braised lamb shanks, this wine can make a winter evening feel considerably less dismal.

Once you appreciate this great little wine, you can move on to Michael David's other sinful offerings: Lust, Gluttony, Sloth and Rage. All are excellent zinfandel wines, but on a different level and at a much higher price point.

Worth delving into, all of these of the seven deadly sins, if you are assured the Big Man upstairs will understand!


Malbecs are the golden child of the wine industry right now – most especially ones from South America. The Estate Malbec from Colomé in northwestern Argentina is a wonderful example of a skillfully crafted wine.

The malbec grape is originally from France, but the warm, dry climate in Argentina makes for ideal growing conditions.

A little trivia about this winery: It is considered to be the highest-elevation viticulture region in the world, with vineyards between 7,500 and 10,000 feet. Flavors of black currants, raspberries and some cherry lend a luscious fruit background to this velvety wine.

Aging in French oak barrels creates a wine with pronounced tannin but a fine and long finish. Paired with a steak with a little fat (like a ribeye or prime rib), this malbec might make you glad it is a little cool outside.


Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely grown wine grape varieties. The French have led the way with amazing cabs from Bordeaux – in 1985, Christie's Auction House sold a bottle of Château Lafite cabernet sauvignon from 1787 for $160,000.

No, that bottle (once owned by Thomas Jefferson) is no longer drinkable, but remains the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

On a more plebeian note, one of my favorite cabernets is from California. Silver Palm from the North Coast has a dark ruby color and is a sumptuous drinking wine. This wine is tannic but has juicy cherry and cassis flavors that end with a soft and silky finish. Whether you drink this one on its own, with roasted chicken or even grilled hamburgers, this is a solid go-to red wine.

While we are fortunate to not have to deal with Polar Vortex weather, it is still winter and what better reason to enjoy some warming red wines. Cheers.

Laura Owen is executive chef with CJ's on the Bay at The Esplanade. She is a wine expert, and along with Adamo Serravalle of Marco Prime and DaVinci's and Marco Porto of chop239 is a regular contributor to this column.

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