Pairing White Wine with Winter Food

It's easy to see why folks gravitate towards reds in winter. Bracing tannins, and often richer in body, red wines easily warm you up from the inside. But the truth is, there is no red wine season, just as there's no beer season or chocolate season. As people abandon old drinking rules such as white with fish, red with meat, attitudes about when to drink what are also changing. And thank goodness for that, as white wine can certainly be just right on a cold winter’s night.

What food, what wine?
• Creamy soups and pastas – imagine your ivory-coloured bowl of lobster bisque, cream of chicken soup, butternut soup or even creamy pastas and lasagne. Creamy concoctions and white wines are the best friends in the world. An oaked Chardonnay would do the trick – a soft, round, white wine wafting with slight hints of dried flowers, subtle citrus and a kiss of butter with a comfortable weight on the palate and enough acidity. Try it with Mulderbosch Chardonnay.

• Braised short ribs – while it may seem counter-intuitive, you’ll need a wine with serious acidity to cut through the richer, fattier foods that tend to be served in colder months. Pop open a bottle of crisp white Chenin Blanc – a light, acidic white that will create a beautiful, but sharp, contrast to your ribs. Try it with Odd Bins Bin 110 Chenin Blanc.

• Meat stews and pot pies – here’s the biggest surprise of the list, for certainly everyone’s first thought concerning stew is red wine. If you’ve not tried this, please put a pretty big, multidimensional white blend alongside your next meat stew. The ripe fruit flavours, rich minerality and hints of brown baking spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, make this a match made in heaven. Try it with The Wolftrap Viognier/Chenin Blanc/Grenache Blanc blend.

• Roasts – as the meat gets fattier, the odds go up for crisp and acidic white wines. The word for Riesling is “tart” and the raciness of the acidity keeps everything in check if you’re roasting lamb, pork or duck this winter. These wines are sharp and full of honey and steel/gun flint, with wafting floral notes like white flowers and, occasionally, dried flowers. Swimming among all of this, and sometimes floating above, is a kiss of kerosene. Try it with the Riesling dominant blend of Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer.

• Curries – from spicy Indian curries to creamy coconut-spiked Thai versions, we all have our winter favourites. The ideal pairing partner is Gewürztraminer. The key word to describe Gewürztraminer is “heady”, but don’t let that scare you. With scents of fresh roses and exotic lychee flavours these wines aren’t messing around, and among the sweet soaked aromas you get a nice kiss of savoury with hints of cracked black pepper and the occasional bacon fat. Try it with Henri Ottmann Alsace Gewürztraminer.

This proves there are white wines that are chilled but still cozy on the palate, and wonderful for winter food pairing. The trick is to find the right ones.