As winter approaches and the weather turns cooler, many people shy away from white wines in favor of reds. While serving a slightly chilled white may be counter-intuitive on colder nights, many white wines go really well with your favorite holiday dishes.
A few principles to follow while selecting a white wine for your next holiday dinner party:
Opt for higher alcohol. Choose wine from warmer regions where the grapes gets riper and therefore produce higher alcohol wine. Alcohol warms the body and you won’t even notice the chill on your whites.
However, if spicy (hot) food is involved, choose a wine with residue sugar and lower in alcohol. German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from Alsace go great with spicy food because the sugar tames the burning sensation from spicy food and their lower alcohol content won’t contribute to more heat in your mouth.
Choose wines that have seen some wood. Oaked wines take on characteristics of the barrels they were aged in, which often translate to baking spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla, which goes great with all the fall flavors.
Some of my favorite winter pairings of fall and winter whites are:
- Terre di Tufi from Tuscany with wine poached chicken and roasted winter root vegetables
Terre di Tufi is a full body Italian “super Tuscan white” that’s a blend of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The smooth texture of the wine goes great with the silkiness of a juicy chicken. The toasty, nutty flavor along with hints of vanilla compliments the sweetness of the meat and the sugar in root vegetables.
- Sémillon from Columbus Valley, Oregon with roasted honey glazed ham
Sémillon is a full and weighty white that is almost always blended with some Sauvignon Blanc to brighten it up. The nose of it is distinctly full of fig, apples and warm spices such as saffron and cloves and they stay pretty consistent through the taste. The apple and pear notes in the wine pairs exceptionally well with pork, and the baking spice notes goes well with the holiday glaze. The sweetness of the fruit is a great compliment to the richness of the fish. It is also higher in alcohol, which warms your body right up after a few sips!
- My latest discovery is Morava grape from Serbia paired with stuffed Chilean sea bass
Morava is a dry white wine that, at first, has many herbal notes, but opens up to a fruity finish of peach and lychee. It is a medium to full body white that goes better with a fatty piece of fish. The freshness of the herbal notes works fantastically with roasted fish with creamy stuffing, and the s
- California Oaked Chardonnay with your Thanksgiving turkey
Chardonnay has notes of green apple and lemon that can brighten up your holiday’s main dish. The toasted nuts and spice flavor from sitting in oak will also go well with the stuffing and the sweet potato gratin that is served on the side. The buttery texture makes it a great winter white with heavier food.
Editor’s note: one of our favorite California Chardonnay’s is the Cakebread 2010 Chardonnay. Winemaker notes: lightly buttery, ripe golden apple, pear and citrus aromas, complemented by vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg from oak aging. Lush, concentrated and creamy on the palate, with crisp acidity and zesty mineral/spice tones.
Next time you’re invited to a holiday party, bring a white. Leave them outside the window for a few minutes, pop, pour, and enjoy. You will see why the holidays are the perfect time for some wintery whites. Cheers!
This article was a guest post by Rebecca Lemon and James Chiang. Accomplished sommeliers, the duo has recently opened Amuse Wine Bar on the Lower East Side in New York City. The concept? A place for wine lovers by wine lovers. Amuse offers a laid back, relaxing atmosphere. The menu consists of a variety of small plates that compliments the extensive selection of wines. Lemon and Chiang’s goal is to educate customers while keeping the wine amusing and interesting.
Want to try great wines by the glass before you buy? Pay them at visit, and tell them Crave Local said hello.
Amuse Wine Bar
Neighborhood: Lower East Side