How’s it going over there?
Well. It’s cold. Really cold. And gloomy. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m always thinking of wine, maybe I’d have gone for stronger drinks this winter!
Here in Lisbon, from where I’m writing to you, things are not as bad as in other countries such as our neighbours in Spain who have been facing really unusual snowstorms in this early 2021… But central heating systems are not really a big thing around here (a whole different social problem to debate), so you can always expect to face tough times depending on where you are.
Moving on to what we came here for: good wine.
When the temperature drops, we want something comforting. So let’s have a look at wines you might enjoy to cheer you up during winter.
Bolder red wines for the win(ter)
Stronger red wines, with a good body and more powerful structure, are key for winter. Astringency. Powerful tannins. Higher alcohol content. These are just a few aspects that makes so many of us think of these wines are so suitable for the season.
Of course, you can (and should!) still have your fair share of Pinot noir, Grenache and others, as they go so smoothly with a wide array of comfort foods for the winter. No one’s suggesting you should have this or that!, ha.
It is the world’s most popular grape, and this is truly a great thing (unless you are a full-blown hipster!).
The red powerhouse, in its numerous single varietals or possible blends from all over the world, never ceases to impress. From the ultra-classic Bordeaux to even its fashionable New World versions in Napa and Chile are heartwarming to go on their own or pairing with also stronger dishes. Alti Wine Exchange has many different investment possibilities for you when it comes to the staple grape.
Syrah / Shiraz
With higher alcohol content, full body and a wide array of dark fruit flavours when you compare its different versions in the Old World and the New World (look out for our favourites, ultra-premium 2011 Montes Folly and M. Chapoutier ‘Le Pavillon’ Rouge Bio 2009), Syrah will cheer you up alongside game, grilled red meats. Pinotage is also a nice substitute.
Nebbiolo grape’s most famous produce, this Northern Italian wonderful red displays powerful tannins alongside great acidity and cherry-like and even leather aromas. Other lovely Piedmontese from Nebbiolo include Barbaresco and Gattinara.
Brunello. Nobile. Chianti… and more! Staying in Italy, the ever-incredible Tuscan wines such as the Alti Wine Exchange-listed ones (IoSonoDonatella, Solaia, Masseto) have this regional grape in common, providing wonderful structure with clear acidity, medium body and red fruit. They go wonderfully with tomato-based dishes, by the way. Fancy some ragù or bistecca?
The blend that every wine enthusiast comes to love when they are in Portugal is a gem everyone should consider having at some point when thinking red. And mostly thanks to Touriga Nacional, a grape that paves strong wines, with a powerfully full body, structured, with dominant dark fruit. We are crazy about Vallado’s Adelaide.
Tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, plum, dark fruit? Yes, these traits you’ll find in this French-turned-Argentinian oaked red are so nice for colder weather. You could also try Carignan, instead.
What about the whites?
Usually, white wines are not first in line when one thinks of bold options for the cold winter weather.
But hope’s not lost: even sparklers, as the one and only Champagne, could do you the trick for pairings with richer winter foods.
And one more thing: who says a nice bolder white wine can’t do for the cold? One can think of a gazillion simple pairings with comfort foods!
Anyway, here are a few choices we recommend:
Oaked is the key when thinking of the world’s most widespread white grape. You can look for Burgundy, Chile or California for options that display marvelous creaminess, especially given that their serving temperature is better off around 13°C-14°C, slightly above overall whites and allowing for unique density.
Floral, fruity, bold and rich. Viognier isn’t all around, but its oaky produces from Rhône or Australia (less acidic) are comforting and delicate. Great with pumpkin dishes.
This Argentinian beauty is delicate, heavy on the fruit but overall mild in acidity and alcohol. Can be just the option you were looking for to pair with sweet and sour Asian dishes.
Acidity. So crisp you might shiver. Mineral, off-dry Rieslings like Kabinett are wonderful when you want to have heavy dishes, to the brink of greasy, as duck or guanciale. Sweeter ones, like Auslese, complement winterlike spicy dinners, like curry or pad thai, whereas a truly sweet Beerenauslese like Staffelter Hof’s flagship can be your error-free choice for dessert (Sauternes or Tokaji too, of course!).
Fortifieds, make it strong.
And now here’s where things get truly warmer: fortified wines are a must for colder weather. A few you might enjoy:
Remember that Touriga Nacional I showed you just a couple scrolls before? This powerful darkish grape is also one of the mains responsibles for the wonders of Port. A 20+-year aged Tawny has sublime oaky traits, whereas a fine Ruby might indulge your chocolate cravings. If you want to make it fancy and historical, try Vallado’s 1888 ‘ABF’ Very Old Port.
And if you have explored enough Port, Moscatel or Madeira are your next Portuguese steps.
The strong and powerful Spanish fortifieds can be dry, middle-ground or even quite sweet. For the winter, a good oloroso, with its walnut aromas, is music to our ears.
The powerful Sicilian fortified is wonderful for sipping by the fire on its own. Especially when you go towards aged, darker versions: ambra and rosso.
* * * * *
Stay safe during this winter, and we’re hoping the next one will provide us more meetings without worries.
Until next time!