Five red wines under $20 perfect for after a day on the slopes

Tasty budget finds to help you warm up after day in the snow.|

This time of year Tahoe beckons, and even those of us on a budget can’t stifle our impulse to play in the snow. Luckily, we have a tasty line-up of modestly-priced reds that will marry well with the hearty fare of the Great Outdoors.

After a day on the slopes, the cabs and zins can hold their own with a plate of protein - steaks, pork loin, stews and even big, beefy burgers. If you’re not a carnivore, you’ll appreciate the pinot noir in the mix. It will pair nicely with earthy, vegetarian dishes. While you’re packing your gear and snowbound reds, keep this in mind: Red wine is the best antidote to frost bite.

Sebastiani, 2013 Sonoma County Zinfandel, 14.6%, $17. A snappy zin with a big personality. Tasty layered flavors of black cherry, anise and cracked black pepper. Nice length. A smart pick.

Dry Creek Vineyard, 2014 Heritage Vines Sonoma County Zinfandel, 14.5%, $22. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum and cracked black pepper. Finishes spicy. Great backbone (structure). Top rate.

River Road, 2014 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.7%, $19. This is a lovely, layered pinot. What makes it a standout is its upfront cherry fruit, while notes of plum, herbs and spice play back up. Well crafted.

Edna Valley, 2013 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon,13.5%, $17. This cab is dense with blackberry fruit, trumped up with spice. Notes of cedar and pepper. Well integrated. A tasty value.

Louis M. Martini, 2013 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.8%, $20. A smart, layered cab. Aromas and flavors of currant, black cherry, herbs and cracked black pepper. Concentrated fruit. Good structure. A steal at this price.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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