Chilled yes, but these wines warm the soul and pair well with hearty dishes
Here we are with our worst cold spell of the winter so far in the Hudson Valley, and the question arises of what to drink to keep warm. Many people like spirits for the cold, such as brandy and whiskey, others reach for red wine during the cold weather, however, there are some white wines that work well when the temperature is below 32 degrees. Even though these wines are served chilled, their full body and minerality can help warm the soul, and pair well with the hearty dishes we crave when the ground is frozen solid.
New York, especially in the northern parts of the state, can be unforgiving during the month of February. One of my favorite whites, Riesling thrives here in New York, in particular in the Finger Lakes region of the state. I find that a nice dry Riesling, with its’ vibrant, aromatic scents and minerality on the palate, can stand up well with hearty stews and earthy soups that help warm you this time of year. Herman J. Wiemer is one of the best wines in this category, not only in New York but the world.
Austria is a country that has some cold winters as well, so it is no surprise that Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s greatest wine fits well in this category. Gruner is a dry, full bodied white wine with floral and grassy notes. It pairs well with a wide variety of foods, in particular, a nice broccoli cheese or butternut squash soup. E.M. Berger makes a fantastic Gruner that is an outstanding value for under $15.
The Italians make a great winter white in Vernaccia de San Gimignano. This Tuscan white wine has a medium to full body with nice intensity. Hints of citrus notes, plenty of minerality and high acidity help this wine pair well with roasted chicken with rich sauces, perfect for the winter months. Fontaleoni makes a fantastic Vernaccia for under $15.
Pinot Grigio is usually associated with the the summer months for its light crisp flavor, but some Pinot Grigios from Alto Adige in the Northeast of Italy can be big boned, and pair well with rich cream sauces. San Pietro is one of these Pinots, with good body and nice acidity this wine pairs well with polenta of all kinds, perfect for the cool weather.
Chardonnay is perhaps one of the best winter whites, but not the super ripe heavy oaked California variety.
The Chards from Burgundy France tend to work best. The Chardonnays from Chablis tend to steer clear of oak, and use stainless steel to make their wonderful juice. This creates a full-bodied, yet crisp wine with wonderful minerality that goes well with the rich sauces of winter. The ideal match is the winter-warming pauchouse, a Burgundian fish stew with butter and cream, but any shellfish dipped in butter will create an impeccable match. Try Domaine Vincent Dampt Petit Chablis, you will be pleased that a bottle for $16 can be so well balanced.
While most of us may choose to grab a big red for these colder days, options are always nice. If red wine isn’t for you, these wines are all great choices for late winter and early spring.