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The barbecues and picnic blankets may be put away for the winter now, but it doesn’t mean that having fun with food and wine is over. Winter is the perfect season to spend time in the kitchen cooking, drinking wine while you cook, and then sharing that good food, paired with beautiful wines, with good company.
Choosing to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables means that you’ll always have the tastiest meals possible and eating this way also it keeps costs down. Summer fruits and veg might seem more appealing, crunchy and tasty but don’t overlook the winter veg. Generous in their sweetness and starch, winter veg is filling, warm and comforting. They often require more work to prepare as well, but this is good as they also tend to store well for much longer than produce from other seasons. While there are useful rules of thumb to follow for winter fruit pairings with wine and winter vegetable wine pairings, what is most important is the overall harmony of the pairing.
Colour matching is probably one of the most familiar principles of wine and food pairing. Generally, lighter coloured fruits and vegetables work best with lighter coloured wines which is why people often say to have white wine with chicken or fish and red wine with red meat. Similarly to the colour concept, you can apply a philosophy of flavour intensity. The more generous the aromatics or flavours of food, the more intense a wine’s concentration should be to create an even-keeled pairing.
This train of thought also follows into the cooking technique: the greater the impact of the preparation, seasoning and finishing; the more flavorful a wine should be to pair with that dish. Foods with minimal prep tend to work better with lighter wines. Don’t also forget to enjoy a nice glass of wine while you are cooking. If you’re not sure what you like, then it’s a good idea just to start trying different wines. You don’t have to go expensive, but buy cheaper wines and work out if you like a merlot over a Rioja or wine from New Zealand compared to French or South African wine.
According to Naked Winery, if you like whiskey, then you’ll probably enjoy big reds which are perfect when you want to curl up with a blanket and a glass of big, bold red wine to keep you warm in the winter months. These wines also pair perfectly with heavier foods like stews and bolognese, not to mention steak and prime rib. You should serve the red wine at approximately 53-57°F.
You could also go for sweet wines which work really well in winter as they are comforting because they have a lot of sugar but also because they do go well with warm and super spicy foods. Sweet wine will cut through the heat of a pad thai or a Mexican dish or super hot curry. Another fun pairing idea is to match sweet wines with luscious treats and desserts, match like for like, you won’t regret it.