Even though the weather in New York has been generous lately, it still technically winter, and all I want is to cuddle up in a blanket and enjoy a glass of big luscious wine that would keep my heart warm and comfort spirit. So I made a list of winter wines, that you should definitely try this season before it ends.
Orange is a New Red during winter time. Basically, it’s a white wine made like red. Made with white grape only, the juice is left in contact with the grape skin and seeds. So, oxidation and prolong skin contact create a deep orange-hued wine with a very particular taste. Orange wine is very versatile and can be paired with a wide variety of meats from beef to fish. What is Orange Wine?
Sherry is a white wine fortified with brandy and aged in large oak barrels. During winter try Amontillado (dry, pale to light gold, full body, nutty) or Oloroso (dry, deep golden, full body, aromatic and spicy). Amontillado is wonderful as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to a cheese plate, roast chicken, prawns and other seafood. Oloroso sherry will be enjoyed with red meat, bitter chocolate, and hard cheese. There is no other wine that offers the age and complexity of Sherry for the price.
Alc.: 15-18% abv.
Fun fact: the real name of the wine is Jerez, named after the town of the same name in Southern Spain. However, when it was introduced to English people they could neither read nor speak Spanish and even refused to try. So, the word Jerez was quickly Anglicised to Sherries, which eventually became Sherry.
Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It’s intensely flavored wine, that can be made from different types of grapes (red and white). Enjoy it before a meal, in cocktails or have it with a dessert (or instead). Canada is the top producer, along with Germany, Austria, and the U.S. How Ice wine is made?
Again it was English people who changed this initially natural wine to the rich fortified wine it is today, the English who created the market for it, and the English who control the trade in Portugal today (most of today’s port companies have British management). Port is a fortified Portuguese wine, produced exclusively in Douro Valley (Northern Portugal). It is made by adding brandy to the wine before all the sugar has been fermented out. You may think of it as a dessert red wine, but it comes in different styles including red, white, rose, dry, semi-dry and aged style called Tawny Port. Start with Ruby Port, the most affordable, sweet and fruity one. Continue with more expensive/more aged Vintage and Tawny Ports with rich, nutty and caramel flavors. Pair port with blue cheese – aged Parmesan, Manchego, Cheddar, as well as fruit pies and chocolate cakes, figs, and nuts. What is Port Wine?
Riesling is a highly aromatic grape with the sweet fruit and floral flavors including apples, nectarines, pears, peaches, tropical fruits, honey, and spice. It can be produced in a variety of styles, from light to full body, from dry to sweet. No matter how sweet the wine is, the acidity is always on point. Not to mention its rich flamboyant flavors reminiscent of summer holidays. Look for German Riesling from Pfalz, Mozel, Rheinhessen and the words ‘Troken’ (dry), ‘Auslese’ (selected grapes from particularly ripe bunches), ‘Spatlese’ (late harvest).
Because of Riesling sweetness and acidity, it makes a perfect combination with spicy food, such as Indian or Asian.
Nebbiolo is an Italian noble grape variety from Piedmont. Famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines are made from this grape. They are elegant and pleasant to drink, with vibrant acidity and grippy tannins. Perfect for winter time, it can be paired with mushroom risotto, charcuterie and anything with truffles. For more affordable option look for Nebbiolo from Roero or Gattinara, Nebbiolo d’Alba or Langhe (Piedmont) as well as from Valtellina (Lombardy).
*Nebbiolo is an Italian red wine grape
*Barolo and Barbaresco are named after the districts in Piedmont. Both wines are made from Nebbiolo grape.
Amarone Della Valpolicella (Valpolicella area in Veneto region) is one of Italy’s finest and age-worthy wines. It is made of Valpolicella grapes that are dried for 4-5 months to lose water and concentrate the sugar. Minimum of 2 years aging required prior the release, but many producers wait even longer. It’s a full-bodied wine with dried fruit flavors, firm tannins, and high acidity. Valpolicella Supeiore Ripasso is a wonderful winter wine and more affordable alternative. Rich and complex, it can be compared to Napa Cabernet. Pairs wonderfully with steak and mushroom dishes.
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello is a wine made of 100% Sangiovese grape or better say of a particular clone of Sangiovese (aka Brunello) adapted to that area’s specific terroir (Montalcino). It is known for its exceptionally bold fruit flavors, high tannins, and acidity.
It takes 5 years minimum to make Brunello, not surprisingly it’s an expensive wine. To get you familiar with this wine, start from Rosso di Montalcino, which offers an outstanding alternative to Brunello as it’s made of the same grape and comes from the same soil.
To learn about more affordable options, stay tuned for my Trader Joe’s ‘expensive wines on the cheap’ recommendations.
Rich and bold treasure from the hills of Montefalco in Umbria (Italy). Very well structured wine with strong tannins, similar to Cabernet Franc. So, make sure to enjoy it with aged cheese, roast beef…, something with enough proteins to balance it.
Lastly, if you are a person who drinks Champagne all year round, there is nothing better than a glass of bubbly to help you cure winter blues and get an extra mood-boosting punch. I know Champagne is expensive, but there are plenty of affordable alternatives. How to drink better bubbles?
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