As we wake to frostier mornings and the sun hangs lower in the sky, our thoughts stray from vibrant meals to hearty fare. The colder winter months speak of a warm hearth and a smooth glass of red; the dazzling whites of summer are forgotten in favour of rich, fullsome wines.
Which is a shame.
There are, admittedly, few things like a delicious Rhône red while tucking in to a beef and ale stew, but it would be a shame to miss out on a refreshing white just because it’s cold outside. If warm tea can cool you down, why can’t cool white help warm your soul?
Richer, fuller styles of white can have the weight and flavour to go with more wintery food, plus smoked salmon is my go-to starter and I’ve yet to find a red wine that doesn’t taste like a mouthful of iron filings when paired with a cut of oily fish like that.
It’s a time for Viognier, big Chardonnay, Alsatian Pinot Gris and barrel-fermented Roussanne. It’s a time for nutty Soaves and textured Falanghina. It’s a time for the big, the bold and the brash, white wines with a heap of personality that parade on your palate and tantalise every tastebud.
Try these as a canape or starter – whisky smoked salmon on homemade blinis with horseradish creme fraiche and a sprinkling of black pepper and dill. I went large with a bottle from my cellar – Rustenberg’s Five Soldiers 2009 – but a wine like Wakefield Estate Chardonnay would work famously, or for those who prefer an unoaked wine, Murrina Greco di Tufo would be a top choice. Money no object? Check out our Fine Wine selection online and grab a bottle of the Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay.
Chicken and tarragon pie is basically my catnip at this time of year. Pieminster do an amazing one which is great if you don’t have time to make your own, and it’s delicious with a cheat’s gravy. (*Cough, Bisto!*) Here’s where southern France shines, wines such as Domaine Ste Rose ‘La Nuit Blanche’ is a stunningly viscous, nutty and toasty treat with lashings of citrussy fruit to refresh you.
Just want to relax by the fire but don’t fancy red? Viognier. Yalumba’s Y-Series is brilliant value and a great balancing act between freshness and full-on fruit, with nice weight and an almost almondy finish.
Check out our range of full and toasty whites here.