What’s better than a cozy fire on a cold winter’s night? Here are tips to building a warm crackling oasis, best enjoyed while sipping your favorite red wine – it is Cabernet Season, after all. These five easy steps will help keep your fireplace fire crackling without smoking out the room or having it fizzle down to nothing.
1. Check the damper, prime the flue
You’ll want to clean your chimney at least once a year. If this is not your first fire of the season, hopefully you have completed this important safety step. Check that the fireplace damper is fully open and that the flue is primed. To avoid smoke pouring into your home, ignite a roll of newspaper and hold it up the damper for a few minutes to warm it up.
2. Crack a Window
Perhaps counter-intuitive, fires require oxygen to burn. This air comes from inside the living area and must somehow be replaced. Most modern energy-efficient homes have excellent insulation and weather-stripped to keep out the cold drafts. When building a fire, you actually want somewhere for the air leaving through the chimney to get back in, so crack open a window especially as you initially get the fire roaring.
3. Choose the Right Wood
Choose dense wood such as oak. Wood should be split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months. Freshly cut logs have more moisture, will be a bit denser and won’t burn as well.
4. Arrange the Logs
How to arrange the logs remains a hot button issue. Some people go with the traditional triangle or teepee approach while others swear by a “Lincoln log” stack. Still others claim the upside-down method for arranging logs is the best way. You don’t have to get crazy with the engineering as long as you have the three fire essentials of fuel, heat and oxygen.
If you’re looking to build a clean-burning fire that lasts for hours, try using the “upside down” fire method. Unlike traditional techniques that require you to put smaller kindling at the bottom and larger fuel logs on the top, the upside down fire lay reverses this order. Start by placing large logs on the bottom with smaller logs on top. Next, add a kindling layer of small twigs on top of this stack and top it all off with bunched up (non-glossy) newspaper balls. Ignite the fire from the top. Because smoke won’t have to pass through the cold logs, the fire will burn cleaner.
5. Stick Around to enjoy it
A fireplace is an ancient and often very mesmerizing source of heat and joy. Responsible wood burners stay close, making sure smoke and flames stay in the fireplace. This shouldn’t be considered a chore, however, more like a relaxing indulgence – especially if you while away the time with loved ones, board games, a good book and your favorite glass of wine.
Winter is the perfect time of year to sit back and savor a glass of red wine as you warm up by the fire at the end of a long day. The best wine for drinking alongside a roaring fire is one you enjoy. While you really can’t go wrong, here are some of our favorites to savor by the fire:
To “elevate” your fireside experience, Elevation is a clever choice. This incredibly structured Cabernet Sauvignon showcases the terroir of Dollarhide Ranch. As the name suggests, the grapes for this wine are grown in some of the highest spots, up to 1,100 feet, and the blend includes 14% Malbec which thrives at altitude and adds juicy dark fruit flavors, color and luscious tannins to the wine.
2015 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot
The soft glow of embers will be matched by the elegance and grace of this beautiful Merlot from our Rutherford Estate. The fine grained tannins, terrific length and structure in this single vineyard wine make it an appealing one to savor with layers of flavor: black plum, dark mocha, subtle raspberry, espresso and toasted vanilla.
2015 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
This dense wine with purple hues belongs in a scene complete with comfy, leather armchairs, crackling fire and engrossing conversation. This structured wine with bold flavors will make you want to keep the dialog going for hours. This special cabernet sauvignon is richly textured with excellent fine-grained tannins that linger on the finish. Throw another log on the fire.
If you follow these five easy steps, you’ll be roasting chestnuts or marshmallows in no time. Please share an image of your cozy fire or anything else you #injoy this Cabernet Season.
December 15, 2020