Wines for Warmth
There are dark greys and blues outside, but inside we’ve got hues of mahogany, burgundy and ruby-reds..
When the winter months bring wood fires, hearty meals, longer nights and chilly noses, nothing can warm the bones quite like a glass of red nestled in the palm of your hand.
The fire’s lit, so what are we drinking?
This deep purple-red known for its plump, dark fruit flavors and smoky finish. The flavours can range from black cherry to blackberry with notes of raspberry and plum depending on where the grapes were grown. Malbec can buddy up nicely with rustic, smokey flavours like mushrooms and cumin spice.
The flavour of the day with Syrah is dark fruits and pepper. The smooth, smokey, peppery style of a lush Hawke’s Bay Syrah typically come with beautiful dark berry and plum characteristics. Pair it with something smokey, something peppery, something yummy!
This is a full-bodied wine with dark, earthy tones that might resemble black cherry, liquorice, or tobacco. It is quite a complex and layered wine that goes really well next to an open fire with mushroom stroganoff or a charred vegan burger in toasted buns. Merlot-Cabernet blends are also good winter wines for warming, savoury flavours.
Chardonnay too often gets a bad wrap, especially oaked, and through no fault of its own! Guilty are the winemakers that oaked the sh*t out of the grape back in the 80s, but nowadays we have a much wider range of styles for this versatile grape. Oak can give it caramel, butterscotch and vanilla flavours that many find comforting and creamy, otherwise, an unoaked chardonnay can be a nice medium-bodied dry white for a pasta dish or on the couch with a good book.
… [Cabernet Sauvignon] is quite a complex and layered wine that goes really well next to an open fire with mushroom stroganoff or a charred vegan burger between toasted buns.
But let’s not get too carried away with a ‘warming red’.
It’s commonly said to serve red wines at room temperature, but with modern homes keeping toasty temps of 20-23°C it can be a bit too warm for our vino friend. Ideally, serve the wine slightly cooler than room between 15-18°C. Too cold can mean heavy, astringent tannic influence, and too warm can bring forward the alcohol and make the varietal seem flat or dull. For a lighter red with less tannin, go for the lower end because there’s less risk for the tannins to become overwhelming. For bigger reds, the warmer end of the bracket is ideal so that the aromas and flavours are released without the interference of alcohol on the palate. Go for a cooler serving temp so that you can bring it up in the palms of your hands.
Got a dusty bottle of Port or Sherry in the cabinet?
Don’t be too quick to knock a good old glass of the stuff as an aperitif or nightcap. If you’re a lover of Scotch, then a dry Sherry is up your alley. Considered the ‘Whisky of wine’, this pale beverage is best served small and sipped slowly. For a sweeter tooth and if you’ve been on your best behaviour all week, then an aged Port is the treat you’ve been working for. There are sweet caramel, chocolate, berry and cinnamon goodies to put into your glass, or in a decadent chocolate cake and gooey sauce.