There is no simple formula for what makes a wine seasonal—it’s really more about how a wine pairs with the current weather, temperature and seasonal meals.
With food, the primary consideration to qualify as a "winter wine" depends on how well that wine pairs with "winter foods". Winter is time for thick stews. As with a hearty beef or lamb stew, winter foods tend to be heavier and thicker, have more meat and fat, and tend to "stick to the ribs." These meals call for a thicker, richer and heavier wine—something along the lines of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese or Barolo.
The above list contains the most common colder weather or winter wines, because they are characteristically full-bodied, on the heavier side and have a richer mouth feel. These wines are also best served at room temeprature (or if you are a stickler, around 60°F). Serving temperature is an important consideration—if a wine is best served a little warmer, then it's a better wine to drink during the cold winter months.
Here are three cold weather winter comfort wines that will warm your heart if not your stomach:
- Antinori Sangiovese Santa Cristina Toscana IGT . A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, Santa Cristina was originally introduced in 1946 as a Chianti Classico. In 1987 Santa, Cristina moved away from the Chianti Classico designation, and with the 1994 vintage Antinori began including 10% Merlot to the blend to add soft, open fruit nuances to the wine. This wine has an intense aroma, with hints of fresh fruit and floral notes. This well-rounded wine has good structure, and is rich on the palate with sweet tannins and a lingering taste of fruit.,
- Aurelio Settimo Barolo 2007. This Nebbiolo-based wine offers a fragrant bouquet packed with wild strawbberries, mulberries, tar, leather, licorice, mint, and slight sweet and spicy overtones. This is a rich, deeply concentrated full-bodied wine with pronounced tannins and acidity.
- Pallavicini Syrah 2010 comes from Lazio, Italy and this spicy red offers notes of violets, black pepper, espresso, tobacco and cacao. This Syrah will warm you with its soft and velvety mouth feel. The primary aromas are moderated and supplemented by savory, earthy smoked meat, leather and truffle flavors. The tannins are ripe and smooth, in this medium- to full-bodied wine.
any one of these is perfect with a stew or bread bowl soup in front of a toasty fire when you're snowbound. Enjoy!
If you enjoyed this article and would like to subscribe to receive notification of future Wine Examiner articles, simply add your email address to the subscribe button at the top of the page. Comments welcome.