By Ted Loos
Updated: January 24, 2017
Courtesy of El Porvenir de Cafayate

Pinot Noir remains a go-to order for a wide swath of people precisely because everyone likes at least one of its personalities. Wines made from this tricky grape vary widely depending on how and where they’re made. And that means they are a classic “shoulder season” red, for those times of the year—like now—when we don’t know what the weather is going to do.

Looking for a Pinot that tastes great chilled as the weather heats up? Inman Family Wines Whole Buncha Love Pinot Noir 2013 ($45)—named the for the whole-cluster fermentation method—has a Russian River Valley cherry cola sweetness, and it’s a super-light ruby color. This winner from Sonoma County improved for me after 45 minutes in the fridge.

But if darker, earthier character is where you and your climate are right now, head toward the J.K. Carriere Vespidae Pinot Noir 2012 ($42). There’s a strain of pure dark cherry, but also licorice and spice. Also, expect some fairly substantial tannins to hit your palate like a feathery snowfall. This is one of my new favorite Oregon wines, and it’s calling out for pairing with a salmon and lentil dish. Suddenly, a late winter chill seems tolerable.

Ted Loos is T+L’s Wine & Spirits Contributor. Follow him on Twitter at @LoosLips.