Here are two red wines that will help maximize the pleasure of holiday parties while minimizing the pain of cold weather.

Brunello di Montalcino is recognized worldwide as one of the great Italian red wines. Montalcino is a beautiful mountain town in the southern portion of Tuscany where the local name for the sangiovese grape is Brunello. A few miles south of Montalcino, in the hamlet of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, is Poggio Il Castellare, a winery owned by Bruna Baroncini.

Italian wine regulations require Brunello di Montalcino wines to be 100 percent sangiovese. The 2005 Poggio Il Castellare was aged for 30 months in large Slovenian oak casks and 20 months in small French oak barrels, then bottled and rested for four months before sale. The 50-month barrel aging regime is required for nonreserve Brunello di Montalcino wines, or what the Italians term normale as opposed to reserva wines.

The 2005 Poggio Il Castellare has a translucent cherry hue, and pleasing aromas of roses and cherries with a mild vanilla scent from the French oak barrels. Its black cherry flavor incorporates soft tannins giving the wine a gentleness not usually associated with young Brunello di Montalcino wines.

Over the last 20 years, some producers have made their wines smoother by increasing the aging time in new French oak barrels in place of the traditional large Slovenian oak casks, macerating the grapes longer to extract a deeper color, and using other winemaking techniques to make Brunello di Montalcino resemble a New World wine. The 2005 Poggio Il Castellare offers consumers a halfway point between the New World and traditional styles.

Enjoy the 2005 Poggio Il Castellare with a classic Tuscan grilled steak and arugula salad.  It retails for approximately $50.

Chateau Montelena became part of American wine history when its 1973 chardonnay won the famous Paris Tasting in 1976. Some wine consumers have read about the French-American wine tasting and more have seen it in the 2008 movie “Bottle Shock”. But Chateau Montelena has also been producing great cabernet sauvignon since the Barrett family purchased the historic Napa property in 1972.

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Chateau Montelena produces two cabernet sauvignons: an estate wine, meaning all the grapes are grown in vineyards surrounding the winery, and a Napa wine, in which the grapes are from various vineyards in the Calistoga district.The 2007 Chateau Montelena Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is another first-rate wine by winemakers Bo Barrett and Cameron Perry. Made from a blend of 91 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent merlot, and 1 percent cabernet franc, the wine releases enticing aromas of blackberry, cinnamon and raisins. Its full body is packed with rich, ripe California black fruit flavors with integrated tannins.Barrett and Perry limited the oak aging to 14 months with only 15 percent new oak barrels. This intelligent decision preserved the natural Napa fruit flavors and avoided the candied vanilla taste infecting many Napa wines from excessive new barrel aging.

The 2007 Chateau Montelena Napa cabernet sauvignon needs about 45 minutes in a decanter and a roasted rack of lamb.

The 2007 Chateau Montelena Napa Cabernet Sauvignon retails for about $50.