If you’re like us, here toward the end of January, you’re cooking full-flavored, hearty dishes to combat the chill creeping into your bones. As Ezra Pound wrote, “Winter is a-coming in, lude sing goddamn!” Damn right, Ezra! A couple of nights ago, we concocted pennino_magful.jpg a vat of white bean, sausage and escarole soup that will sustain us over several meals. We recently made Michel Richard’s potato stew with black olives, onions, mushrooms and slab bacon; talk about stomach-filling and soul-satisfying! Perhaps you’re braising short ribs or veal shanks or assembling stick-to-the-ribs beef or lamb stew.

In any case, at KoeppelOnWine, I posted a page with a raft (i.e., a dozen) big-hearted red wines from California that will belly up to your mid-winter dinners and match them with warmth, grit and vigor. These include four old-fashioned blockbuster zinfandel wines from Mazzocco, four of Ed Sbragia’s single-vineyard cabernet sauvignon wines from his Sbragia Family Vineyards and — let’s say it — a truly great zinfandel, balanced and powerful and elegant, from Rubicon Estate, the Edizione Pennino 2005.

By the way, I had a difficult time finding slab bacon at my local grocery stores. In one, for example, there was “slab” bacon in the case, but it was sliced. I asked one of the butchers if he had slab bacon and he said, “Sure,” and took me to the case where the sliced “slab” bacon was. And I said, “But that’s sliced. If it’s sliced, it’s not in a slab anymore.” He looked at me as if he had just seen rat droppings around the meat slicer. “That’s what we got,” he said. Do we actually live in a world where there’s no respect for language and common sense? Or is my life a complete fantasy?