Do we, or should we, drink different wines in winter?
It is not compulsory by any means but perhaps some wines drink better in the cooler weather, in the same way as salads are more a summer fare and roasts and stews are more for winter. A chilled white may not be as appealing on a cold night as a summer afternoon in the same way a heavy red is not as refreshing when it is hot.
There is also some science to the matter. Alcohol is a vasodilator, it temporarily opens the blood vessels bringing warm blood to the skin and making us feel warmer in the cold. Also, red wines are served at room temperature, not chilled, and have higher levels of alcohol than white wines, the mouth feel generally delivers a warming sensation.
Often we think of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz styles from Australia as the “big” reds for winter. Don’t ignore the Sangiovese grape in Chianti and other Italian reds, the Malbecs or South African reds that can deliver the same punch. A bold rioja would not be out of place either, would it?
Of course, the foods that these reds match well with also lend themselves to winter meals - think roasts, steaks, roast or mash potatoes, all with gravy, those comfort foods that appeal on a cold night. A slightly lighter Merlot or Pinotage pair well with spiced meats or curries. Homemade soups and crusty breads make me feel hungry and get me reaching for a red.
We don’t all prefer reds, so what whites work in the cooler weather. For me, it is the Chardonnays, the honey like feel in the mouth, the buttery and vanilla flavours and not needing to be as chilled at a Sauv Balance for instance. Full bodied chardonnay works so well with creamy sauces and of course the holiday turkey.