Which winter warming wines work well?
PUBLISHED: 11:32 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:32 22 January 2018
What better way to beat the New Year blues and failed resolutions than by checking out some winter warming wines to complement comfort foods such as stews and casseroles?
Keep the flavours simple and within your post-Christmas budget and as many recipes call for the addition of wine, only cook with those varieties you would enjoy drinking or they’ll add off flavours.
Luckily there are many robust full flavoured wines, both white and red, that will be great accompaniments to these dishes.
As I’ve mentioned before a useful rule of thumb when selecting a wine that will complement a meal is to take the main ingredient(s) and think of their flavours and this will lead you to the flavours needed in the wine chosen to drink with it.
Although many casseroles will have a rich full-flavoured sauce to go with them the best wines should also be full-flavoured with tangy almost savoury notes to balance the rich fruity notes.
Try Argentinian Malbecs or the increasingly trendy Argentinian wines made from the Bonarda, with their smooth rich dark juicy fruit flavours, as they will complement the robust meatiness of a casserole or steak.
Similarly, a richer New World Shiraz from Australia such as those from McLaren Vale, the home of Aussie Shiraz, a Portuguese red from native grape varieties or a contemporary South African Pinotage will be a great match especially with a tagine.
Pinotage, the truly South African grape variety, was created to cope with that country’s climate and soils.
It is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and originally had very difficult dry chewy fruit notes that tasted harsh and unpleasant. However, modern styles are lovely and fruity with a deep vibrant fruit flavour that have been carefully aged in oak to add complexity and depth of flavour.
Wines from the Rhone Valley in France are often made from a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes, which make a ripe fruity wine with some balancing acidity.
So too do the Barbera and Sangiovese in Italy, making them ideal to match and balance the robust food flavours whether meaty or veggie.
Languedoc reds from Faugeres, and Minervois or a US Zinfandel also deserve a try.
Alternatively, for a fish pie or a mushroom risotto seek out the soft fruity wines that have rounded yet refreshing flavours such as New World lightly oaked Chardonnay from Chile, minerally yet buttery South African Chardonnay and Viognier or an aromatic Argentinian Torrontes.
They are ideal for when you want to drink a white wine with its lovely tangy fruit, offering a lovely mouthfilling taste that makes it a good accompaniment with food.
It would be wrong to ignore Burns Night on January 25 when talking about winter warming food and wine combinations.
On this day the traditional Scottish fare of haggis, neeps and tatties is eaten to celebrate the birthday of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns.
A good haggis will have a mélange of spicy oatmeal notes, and many people say that only a good malt whisky should be drunk to complement it.
But a good alternative is a robust richly-flavoured Australian Shiraz or the Ardiles Priorat from North Eastern Spain with its lovely robust yet elegant deep savoury flavours. Best enjoyed whilst listening to ‘The Ode to the Haggis’!