Winter Wines and Food Pairings
Winter is a great season to sit back, contemplate life, and spend time with the people you love. While you may not be able to swim or sun-bake during the colder months, food and wine really come into their own during this time of year. From stews and soups through to curries and roasts, from spicy Shiraz through to complex Cabernet Sauvignon, finding the perfect balance between a scrumptious hot meal and a delectable glass of wine is one of the best things about winter.
Australian Shiraz is made for winter, with this big and bold drop packed with berry fruit flavours and savoury notes. Dark berry and blackcurrant flavours are typical in Shiraz, with vanilla bean and cherries also coming through in some wines. The modern Shiraz grape is identical to the Syrah grape, which was brought to Australia by James Busby, the father of Australian wine. While Shiraz is not for everyone, it really shines during the colder months. Shiraz is perfectly paired with the rich, heavy meat dishes that we all enjoy over winter, including stews, slow cooked lamb, and any kind of grilled meats. (Our Shiraz pick: The Royal Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2013)
This mostly Italian wine is also produced in Australia, with this variety really beginning to shine down-under after being introduced in the 1970s. Derived from the Latin ‘Sanguis Jovis’, this wine is named after the mythical Roman god, Jupiter. High-acid and high-tannin Sangiovese is robust, rustic and absolutely perfect for winter, with its earthy tones and complex nose going well with a range of zesty, tomato-based foods. The Mediterranean heritage of this wine make it perfectly suited to hard cheeses and Italian dishes such as wood-fired pizza and tomato-based pasta. (Our Sangiovese choice: It's Pronounced Mudgee Sangiovese)
For many people, Merlot is the perfect winter wine, with its rich and velvety texture offering the perfect accompaniment to a warm winter meal. Merlots are well-known for their fruit-forward nature, with aromatic notes of plum, cherries, blackberries and other wild berries bringing much-needed fruit flavours to rich winter dishes. A glass or two of Merlot will sit perfectly with winter roasts, crispy baked potatoes, and hearty stews just to name a few favourites. The amazing texture and full-bodied flavour of Merlot make it capable of standing up to winter’s rich flavours without ruining your palette. (Our Merlot pick: The Impressionist Merlot 2017)
If you're a white wine lover, Chardonnay can be the perfect winter drop, with its rich and buttery texture the ideal complement to many winter meals. While Chardonnay is often associated with the summer months, French oak maturation can add a fuller body due to dominant notes of vanilla, butter and caramel. While citrus, peach and melon flavours are also present in Australian varieties, there is a structure and backbone to this wine that make it ideal during winter. Chardonnay works very nicely with smooth and buttery dishes such as creamy pastas and cream-based soups. It also pairs well with chicken, turkey, and seafood dishes. (Chardonnay pick: The Royal Chardonnay 2014)
While you don't have to go red during the colder months, the complex nature of red wines is great for balancing rich winter dishes. Cabernet Sauvignon is well known as a winter wine, with its bold and complex palette working well with food that's just as hearty and robust as it is. Dark berry fruits and delicate oak characters are common with Cabernet Sauvignon, with its fine tannin-driven finish sticking around just long enough to complement foods like roast lamb, steak with garlic sauce, and freshly grilled mushrooms. You don't have to eat meat to enjoy this complex and layered drop, however, with Cabernet Sauvignon also pairing well with lentils, potatoes, and anything that includes pepper. (Suggestions: The Impressionist Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Artiste Cabernet Sauvignon 2015)