Wines for the Winter
While it might not “officially” be winter yet, many of us are embracing the holiday spirit as much as we can this year. With the temperatures cooling down, lets not kid ourselves, a glass of nice wine by the fire place, while being wrapped in a warm, cozy blanket sounds heavenly!
So, when preparing for your cozy wine night in, which wine should you reach for?
While many think wintertime means they should reach for reds, this isn’t always necessarily true. There are incredible white wines as well as red to enjoy during the colder months. Of course, these wont be the same light, bright, and fruity wines you drank poolside all summer whether it be red or white. This time around you will want to search for warming wines, perhaps with darker fruit flavors and notes of wintery herb spices.
Another thing to remember and consider in the winter months, and throughout the holiday season is that the meals made and served are heavier in comparison to summer months. While just a few months ago you may have been enjoying a glass of fruity sangria with your refreshing green salad, now is the time to indulge in a hearty Zinfandel with your rich Prime Rib and mashed potato dinner.
Need help deciding which reds or whites are great for this time of the year? We’re here to help with that!
Great Winter Reds
Shiraz is a dark-skinned red wine grape genetically identical to the Syrah grape. While the grapes may be the same, the style differences between the wines are distinctive enough that Shiraz is considered a distinct variety. The wine is typically full-bodied and known for fruit flavors of blueberry, blackcurrant and black cherries with undertones of chocolate and black pepper.
Introduced to California during the Gold Rush era, the Zinfandel grape (also known by its Italian name Primitivo) traces its origins back to a pair of Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag. Red Zinfandel can be produced unoaked to create easy-drinking, jammy flavor, or put on oak to give it a more full-bodied flavor.
Tempranillo is an almost black grape widely grown in Spain to make full-bodied red. The wines are ruby red in color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.
The Grenache grape is a widely planted varietal that is believed to have originated from northern Spain (known as Grenacha) due to its love of hot, dry climates. Grenache wines are full-bodied with aromas and flavors of raspberries, strawberries, black cherries, spices, roasted nuts and black pepper.
Nebbiolo is the finicky, thick-skinned grape variety behind some of the top quality wines of Piedmont northwestern Italy. The Nebbiolo red wines delicate color is complimented by the light, fruity, rose aromas, and is contrasted by the bold flavors of cherry, coffee, anise, and earthiness. A powerful, full-bodied, extremely tannic and acidic wine is the final product of Nebbiolo.
This varietal generally parades aromas of dried cherries, figs, roses, and tea. Fruit-forward Sangiovese is perfect for the winter holidays, warming your taste buds with clove-spice and cherries. The traditional, rustic Sangiovese will give off strong smokey and chocolate flavoring.
Cabernet Sauvignon is deeply colored, tannic and oaky from barrel aging. Lighter versions are made fresh and fruity. Its aromas can evoke black currant, cedar, dark berries, dark fruit, tobacco, vanilla, and more.
Some Wonderful Winter Whites
Chardonnay is by far the foremost white grape of Burgundy and has become ever-present in today’s wine world. The Chardonnay grape itself is relatively neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived more from the specific climate and terroir or the production and aging methods than from any inherent aromatic components. In fact, the notes of butter and vanilla, so often associated with Chardonnay, are actually derived from oak and a process called malolactic fermentation, rather than from the grape itself.
Viognier is a thick-skinned, white-wine grape variety with a reputation for producing aromatic wines that tend to be dry instead of overly sweet. Picked when fully ripe, the grapes produce wine noted for high alcohol content and full aromatic aromas of apricots, orange blossom and honey. The flavors most associated with it are apricot and steel.
Riesling is one of the world’s most popular white grape varietals. This is a variety that can be made in either a dry or sweet fashion. The dry versions showcase notes of green apple, citrus and peach that is crisp and refreshing, while the sweeter wines have tropical fruit, honey and spice flavors.
Of course, some of these come in beautiful summery forms, but make sure to look for bottles with delicious dark fruits, notes of wintery spices, and one that can handle a rich and hearty meal.
Enjoy your cozy winter wine nights and don’t forget that a Gold Medal Wine Club membership would make a fantastic gift under the tree!