Kick back and relax with a few of my sommelier approved selections!
As the winter months approach, we start to indulge a little more in our dining habits. You might prefer a warm and heftier soup to a crisp salad, or you’ll take the steak over the fish. It’s colder outside in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus we want to keep warm with heavier meals….not to mention the fact that we don’t have to be in a bathing suit which gives us the freedom to cover up our bellies with layers upon layers.
First and foremost, I would like to make a public announcement: You can still drink white wine in the winter! You don’t have to only drink reds! There are plenty of great options for white wines that will absolutely go well with winter meals and the winter weather.
Wine pairing is an art. That’s not to say that there are no wrong answers…there are wrong answers. But there are also a lot of right answers. Not everyone has the same palate, which makes their wine preferences different. It is the job of the sommelier to determine someone’s palate and find which wine will enhance their experience. On that note, depending upon who you are dining with, I might recommend half bottles if you share similar taste, or single glasses of if your tastes are different.
I’d like to take a look at some great wines to enjoy this winter. Whether you prefer red or white, or want to try something new, I think everyone can find something in this article they might want to try. Let’s dive into some styles I’d recommend:
1) Bordeaux Varietals:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Petit Verdot & Malbec, etc; Whether you prefer old world or new world, there are some great grapes grown in this area. These varietals can pretty much grow anywhere. They do best in warmer climates that enjoy some coastal influences like Bordeaux and Adelaide or even in valley areas like Napa and Walla Walla. These are bolder wines, with a heavier body, deeper fruits, earth and tannin. These wines tend to have medium to medium plus acids as well, making them perfect to pair with richer meals. White Bordeaux is also a bigger style of wine. This makes them heavy enough to match up with big soups or meats but also provides a nice and crisp note at the end. Here are some wines you might want to try:
Chateau Leon Bordeaux Blanc Bordeaux France, 2018 - $17
Calluna Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Chalk Hill, Sonoma, CA 2018 - $35
Chateau Croix-Mouton Bordeaux Supérieur, Bordeaux France, 2015- $16
Chalk Hill Proprietary Estate Red, Sonoma, CA, 2014 - $56
Happy Canyon Winery Barrack Family Estate “Ten Goal” Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, CA 2015- $85
Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, WA, 2015- $57
2) Rhone Valley Varietals:
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier etc.; These are some fantastic varietals to be working with during the holidays. Think of all the honey baked ham, French onion soup, braised lamb, scallops, and BBQ ribs you’ll be grazing on! These are all great foods to pair with Rhone wines. The Rhone Valley is in the south eastern part of France brushing up to the Mediterranean on its southern side. This area is large and mountainous; therefore, these wines have several different microclimates and can grow well in so many different places. All around the world these varietals are grown. Places such as South Australia, parts of Spain, Washington State and even in California’s own Malibu Coast. Here are some recs from that area I’d recommend you check out if you can get your hands on them:
Calera Viognier, Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California, 2014- $37
Domaine Clusel-Roch Cote-Rotie Les Grandes Places, Rhone Valley, France, 2013- $145
Tablas Creek, Esprit de Tablas Blanc, Paso Robles, CA, 2016- $47
AJA Vineyards Syrah, Malibu Coast, CA, 2016- $27
Elderton Shiraz, Barossa, South Australia, Australia, 2016- $20
Crous St Martin Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France, 2017- $34
3) Spanish Whites:
I feel like the Spanish never get enough credit for how delicious their wines are. Especially their white wines. White Riojo is to die for, Verdejo is delicious, Palomino and Pedro Ximenez make for fantastic sherry, and not to mention the classic Albariño which has recently been recently becoming more popular in the US and California especially. These wines tend to have high acidity and are quite flavorful. Often, they’re aged for long periods of time, especially sherries, which can provide an enjoyable mouth feel to match with buttery lobster, scallops, mashed potatoes, and even salmon. If you’re going for something that you wanted to enhance citrus and texture, try one of these:
Niner Albariño Edna Valley, Central Coast, California, 2018- $20
Luis Cañas White Rioja, Northern Spain, 2017-$15
Bodegas Muga Blanco, Rioja, Spain, 2018- $20
Eighty Four Albariño, 2018 Napa Valley- $30
Emilio Lustau La Ina Fino, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry- $23
You cannot go wrong with an Alsatian white during the winter and here’s why; Alsace is known for its thicker and oilier wines that are delicious with heartier foods. Though white and often perfume-y, these wines are fuller bodied than your typical Italian pinot grigio or New Zealand sauvignon blanc. You can enjoy the texturally tasty wines of Alsace with your next meal, even if it’s some hearty meatballs or a rack of lamb!
Famille Hugel, Classic Pinot Gris, Alsace, France, 2016- $20
Zind-Humbrecht Muscat, Alsace France, 2015- $28
Trimbach Gewurtztraminer, Alsace France, 2016 - $25
5) White Burgundy:
Chardonnay is a fan favorite wine and has been for quite some time. Burgundy is has a wide range of pricing. The higher up the Cru scale you go the more expensive the wine. Most white Burgundy is aged in French Oak barrels. The barrels gently round out the chardonnay wines and allow for a silky texture to pair with flavors of baked pear, nutmeg apples and lemon. You might get hints of pie crust, or find wines that are more acidic in nature. Both are delicious and pair well with fall time favorite foods like squash, hearty white fish and salmon, poultry, and creamy soups.
Louis Jadot, Mâcon-Villages, Bourgogne, France, 2016- $13
Joseph Drouhin, Puligny-Montrachet, Bourgogne, France, 2016 - $70
Louis Latour Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche, Bourgogne, France, 2017-$26
2015 Domaine Dublere Bourgogne Blanc Les Millerands, $30
6) Dessert Wines:
Sweet wine is a delicacy and during the winter especially is a nice addition to your meal. With a decadent dessert or even just alone, the texture and flavor of dessert wines can add to any dinner experience. The full flavors of nutmeg, vanilla, mocha, chocolate, dates, nuts and other dried fruits remind us of cool nights cuddled by the fire. There are several different dessert wines to try. They’re also fantastic because of the complexity of the flavor that has over time developed in the bottle and aging vessels. From Niagra, to Mosel, down to Constantia, there are so many different dessert wines to try with your next cheese board or dessert. Bare with me though. These prices are much higher per bottle because they are aged for so long and they’ll last you much longer. The bottles are also between 375mL and 500mL, usually, instead of the 750mL for your general bottle of wine. Your pours should be about 3oz, or half glass for a full glass of dessert wine.
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine, Niagra, Ontario, Canada, 2017- $45
Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, Natural Sweet Wine, South Africa, 2015- $95
Kopke Colheita Porto, Portugal, 1966- $270
Taylor Fladgate Old Tawny 10 year Port, Portugal- $29
Felsina Vin Santo, Italy, 2007- $39
Chateau Riessec, Sauternes, France 2014- $35
Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Red Label, Hungary, 2013- $55
Enjoy winter with these selections! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me in via the contact portal! I always love to hear suggestions, and your thoughts on any of the wines listed above.