You step outside to the faint whiff of wood smoke. The cold creeps down the where your shirt sits funny on the back your neck. You can’t see the houses three streets over for all the white/grey fog. The slick roads and car tyres sound like you’ve stepped into the worlds largest velcro convention. You’ve stepped into winter. It’s cold, miserable and you have guilt because “we probably need this rain”.
The light at the end of this overcast tunnel is you get to have a lovely glass of wine at the end of the day. But how do you pick the ultimate wine for winter? “Surely it is just Shiraz?” No, the world has invented other grape varieties now. “I normally go by alcohol. If it is close to 17% it’ll be great” Ummmmm. Sure. No.
A big fruity hug full of ripe, vibrant, juicy flavours.
But both comments do have an element of truth. In winter, you want a big fruity hug full of ripe, vibrant, juicy flavours. OK and a bit of alcohol doesn’t hurt. However, I would contend it is the mouth feel that is most important. We often don’t reach for icy cold beverages for winter because that would not be helping. And you don’t often serve beer or Riesling at room temperature (not Australian winter room temperature which is artificially heated. I mean cellar temperature which is 16 degrees C or less) because without that refreshingness they lose a lot of their charms.
This winter you want to be snuggled up with a full bodied wine.
Note I didn’t just say reds. Some Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier are all classic choices. For red varieties there are choices. Try to stick to warm climates and their specialities. Barossa Shiraz, Coonawarra Cabernet, Rhone Valley Grenache, Mourvedre from Bandol. Tempranillo from Spain. All those lovely varieties from Sicily, Puglia and Campania (Nero d’Avola, Negroamaro, Aglianico). That’ll give you a bit to chew on for now.
Of course, food changes everything.
If you’re cooking a red duck curry then maybe Heathcote Shiraz isn’t as appropriate as something a bit lighter and aromatic and not huge in alcohol. You might have an Alsatian Pinot Blanc for instance. And that is fine because lets face it, by the time we get home from working on a cold day the heater goes on and the cold goes way for another night.
The number one rule.
These ideas are always overruled by the number one rule of wine: drink what you like. But do have some fun and experiment because you never know what else you might like.
Which Winter Wines To Buy
I’ve made a short list of my favourite winter wines here.
And I’ve made your life even easier by putting together a six pack for you to enjoy here.