The winter changes our taste in wine. Fact. The crisp whites of summer give way to their heartier red counterparts in the autumn and winter months. As usual, personal preference trumps everything else, but here are some useful guidelines for choosing your winter wines.
What is a winter wine?
While there’s obviously no legal definition of the term, when the cold hits, you’ll probably want to be drinking something fuller-bodied, if not fortified. Just as you layer up for the colder weather, you’ll want wines with layers. Wines offering the sort of complexity and depth that you can ponder and mull over by a roaring fire. They’re generally bolder, spicier, more velvety than those you’d drink in the summer months and best served at room temperature. When it comes to whites, you’re more likely to veer towards oak aged wines with more structure and spicy, mature flavours as opposed to light, citrusy styles. Think opulent and luxurious.
Rejuvenating Ruby Reds
Winter foods tend to be earthy and unctuous, the more meat and cream and rib-sticking goodness the better, giving you a cosy, comforting feeling. Pair these winter foods with equally strong reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Zinfandel.
Casas del Bosque Syrah Gran Reserva, 2013, Chile
Made by award-winning winery Casas del Bosque, this is full-bodied with lovely aromas of black cherries and chocolate and a slight oakiness, thanks to twelve months in oak before bottling.
Welcoming Winter Whites
There’s no reason to stop drinking white wine in the winter. Oaked whites are a good option, as they are more full-bodied and rich. Grapes such as Chardonnay, Semillon, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc can all be particularly textured and full-bodied.
Alpha Zeta Chardonnay, 2016, Veneto, Italy
Part fermented in oak and aged on its lees, this is full of soft, peachy fruit with a thread of minerality. It’s an easy-drinking style of Chardonnay that works well on its own or with classic comfort food such as roast chicken.
Zevenwacht Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc, 2015, South Africa
80% barrel fermented in oak and aged on its lees in barrel for 10 months to give rich, complex flavours of pineapple, peach and honey with a nutty finish, not forgetting a crisp, racy acidity.
Fortified and dessert wines
When you need something a little special to settle into an evening or finish off a meal. There’s nothing quite like the sweet seduction of a fortified or dessert wine.
Quinta Do Infantado Unfiltered LBV 2011 Port 75cl
A classic style from the best Port vintage in 20 years. This LBV is a deep ruby red in colour with plenty of black morello cherry aromas. The palate is fresh, fruity and spicy, full of round ripe tannins and a long, lingering finish. Just don’t forget to decant before serving.
Domaine de Pellehaut l’Escoubasso, 2014, France
Domaine de Pellehaut pick their last parcels of Petit Manseng in late October, turning them into a delectable, sweet, light wine with fresh acidity, honeyed tropical fruit and lovely rich texture, thanks to barrel fermenting and ageing on the lees.
Liberty Fairtrade Shiraz 2014 South Africa
This is a wonderful wine drunk just as it comes but we think it’s also a great wine for mulling as it is just so fruity. Six months oak ageing gives aromatic berry notes leading through to rich bramble fruit flavours and lovely soft, ripe tannins.
So there you have it. All you need to do now is stock up, hunker down and find your winter groove.
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