We’re plunging into the winter and holiday season at full tilt and for me this is a season of getting together with friends for dinner and searching out new and more robust wines to bring to the table.

The falling snow outside makes me yearn for strong tasting reds to bring warmth and light to evening meals.

One of the things I’ve loved about the past three weeks has been trying some of the new wines that are left over from the Rotary Club wine festival that was held mid-October. This year there was a rich variety of wines to choose from and I was delighted to see how many wines from Spain were represented in the mix.

I am a big fan of the wines of Spain and Portugal and everything from those two countries that has been offered at the Yukon Liquor Corporation (YLC) thus far has not disappointed.

On Friday afternoon, I picked up a bottle of Legado Munoz from Castilla, which is a fine 2010 Garnacha grape wine for under $13. Garnacha is Spain’s second most planted red-wine grape variety, only out-planted by Tempranillo, with which it is often mixed.

The Garnacha grapes of the Legado Munoz wine are from 20 year-old vines grown in central Spain, the largest wine growing area in the world. Here, the vines are grown between 500 and 700 metres above sea level and endure temperatures that range from 0°C in the winter to 40°C in the summer.

The vintner Viñedos y Bodegas Muñoz, which grows this Garnacha wine bargain, is situated in the village of Nobleja, where they have been making wine for over 100 years. Here, they age their wines in 3,500 barrels for between six months and two years and produce more than five million bottles per year.

Legado Munoz is their entry-level wine, but I think it stands up nicely to wines I have tasted at twice the price. It has a fruity, almost strawberry smell when first poured in the glass. This rich red wine has a slightly spicy, peppery taste, with a good dash of oak and a hint of vanilla. I served it with ricotta and spinach filled pasta and a tomato and onion-based sauce with shrimp and mussels. Though I might otherwise try a white wine with this entree, this red worked very nicely with the tomato base and the spiciness of the onions, peppers and garlic.

Recent vintages of this wine have rated a very respectable 87 points, which is a score by Wine Spectator magazine to grade a wines as: “Very good: wine with special qualities.”

One last reminder for my wine readers: the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau wine should be arriving in Whitehorse in the next two weeks. Though known primarily for its fruity fun than as a serious wine, I always like to pick up a bottle or two to kick off the holiday season, as it is the first wine of the 2012 vintage, with grapes picked less than 60 days ago. It is released the third Thursday of November and usually gets to Whitehorse within a week of that date.