Now that the weather has turned cooler, we have changed both our wardrobe and our cuisine. Why not change what we drink as well?
In the summertime, crisp white wines and light rosés are refreshing and the way to stay cool in the heat. But as temperatures drop, many people start to crave more red wines to help them warm up. A rich, red wine can do just as much to counter the winter weather as your favorite sweater. Spicy reds, such as a Grenache-based wine from the Côtes du Rhône or an Austrian Blaufränkisch, are also a great way to stay warm in the winter. Some richer white wines that see some oak ageing can have a spicy element that is a great match for the colder weather. Excellent examples of these to try are Chardonnays from Burgundy or California.
Our cuisine has simultaneously changed going into this time of year as well. Gone are the light salads, fresh fruits, and delicate dishes. Now, most of our dishes are heartier and denser: rich stews and soups, braised meats, roasted root vegetables and winter squashes. As our meals change, the style of wine that will complement these dishes changes as well. The brisk, dry Sauvignon Blanc that paired so well with the late summer salad with goat cheese and tomatoes is no match for a hearty beef stew. Richer dishes call for richer and fuller-bodied wines. While the hearty beef stew would be overpowering for a light Sauvignon Blanc, it would be perfectly complemented by a rustic red wine from the Languedoc or the Southern Rhône. According to Matt Fern, wine buyer at Poole’s Diner, in the winter “I think of braised dishes, like lamb braised in red wine with root vegetables and hearty herbs such as rosemary. This dish is perfect with red wines from Italy’s Piemonte region, which produces rich, earthy reds with an elegant balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins.” Similarly, other braised meats, such as pork or beef, are natural partners with a rich, Spanish Tempranillo or a spicy Syrah from the Northern Rhône.
And while winter cuisine calls for richer wines, that doesn’t automatically rule out white wines. There are many concentrated whites that will partner well with the season’s dishes. Pair the sweetness of roasted carrots and butternut squash with a fruit-forward Alsatian white, such as Riesling or Pinot Gris, or a floral Godello from Northwestern Spain.