Winter wine pairings
A guest article by Madeline Blasberg.
The fire is stoked, the forecast is dismal, and the days are getting ever shorter as we dip into the heart of the winter months. So if you’re experiencing a minor touch of seasonal depression, try out the best possible pick-me-up: crafting an excellent winter wine pairing.
But this year, rather than running across town in search of one specific wine label of one rare vintage, arm yourself with some seasonal wine pairing basics that help you make sense of whatever ingredients and bottles are readily available in your area.
Seasonal wine pairings
As peculiar as it may seem, seasonal wine pairings are based on prominent trends that determine which bottles are better for winter, spring, summer, or fall. While there’s no hard and fast rule to guide you through, there tends to be a strong sense of how a wine feels and how it fits into a particular seasonal setting. Seasonal wine pairings take into account seasonal culinary trends, weather, and overall comfort necessary.
If that still sounds like a foreign concept, simply picture settling down to a plate of beef stew in December. Sounds good right? How about eating that same dish on a 95 degree day in July? Not so appealing, right? The same principle applies to seasonal wine pairings.
Winter wine pairing basics
Match the complexity and “heaviness” of your menu
During winter months, we tend to eat foods that are heavy, thick, fatty, and meat-laden. We concoct complex sauces, spice rubs, broths, and utilize slow cook times until each bite is packed with savory flavors and rich aromas.
Lean into the reds
These spiced, heavy, complex foods tend to beg for a red wine. Seek out medium to full-bodied red wines, and experiment with age and amount of oak aging until you find one that stands up to the boldness of the seasonal fare. And while no season is ever monochromatic when it comes to wine, red wine does have a particularly excellent way of warming the soul against even the harshest bitter chills.
Learn to talk tannins
Tannins are those astringent (drying) agents that are found primarily in red wines. They can range from soft and supple to thick and gripping. Keep this mouth feel sensation in mind the next time you pull a bottle off the rack. Generally, highly tannic wines should be paired with food, while wines with supple tannins can be enjoyed all on their own – say, next to a fireplace or as you watch the snowflakes accumulate outside.
Madeline Blasberg is a certified wine consultant for Etching Expressions, a company that specializes in personalized wine and liquor bottle etchings. Madeline has spent time living in Argentina where she fell in love with wine, both personally and professionally.
You may wish to also read the reference on food and varietal pairing. Yet remember to experiment and have fun. By the way, food and wine pairings will be easier if your bottle collection is balanced, which you can obtain through a diversified buying policy.