“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy,” Anton Chekhov once said. Why, then, resort to your winter red habit when there are so many pleasure-inducing whites that suit the season beautifully?
White wines can evoke the same comforts as the most opulent reds, and can match surprisingly well with the heartier fare of the season.
Full body and deep color, the warmth of higher alcohol, and the crispness and minerality to echo the barren landscape are what you want. Think aged Riesling from Alsace, white Burgundy, Chardonnay from Jura or Grüner Veltliner.
“In winter, I prefer whites with richer body and texture, stronger spiciness and aromatics,” says Chicago-based sommelier Jeremy Quinn. “I like mature German Rieslings, and wines from Alsace, Carso, Vouvray, Mâcon and Valais.”
Sally Kim, wine director for Toronto’s Terroni restaurant, says, “I like cold-climate whites with higher acidity that cut through the richness of hearty dishes and bring balance.”
Kim’s winter selections include a Slovenian Ribolla, a Piedmontese Timorasso and the native Prié Blanc varietal from the Valle d’Aosta. Both boast brisk minerality and wintry flavors like pear and almond.
At Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, owner and wine director Bobby Stuckey, MS, looks to equally chilly northeast Italy, saying “Friulano whites carry the right weight and flavor profile for winter.”
He likes the nutty, Malvasia-heavy Roncús 2001 Bianco Vecchie Vigne, calling it “a perfect winter white.”
The world of winter whites is bright—start your new cold-weather tradition before the warm sun returns.
Talitha Whidbee, owner, Vine Wine, Brooklyn, New York
Four Graces’s 2011 Pinot Blanc from Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This wine is dry, but has amazingly rich tropical fruit aromas of lychee and banana, with a bit more weight on the palate, hints of spices and a long, delightful finish. The vineyard is farmed meticulously with low yields and sustainable methods, a true Oregon winner.
Sally Kim, wine director, Terroni, Toronto
Ermes Pavese’s 2010 Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle from Valle d’Aosta, Italy.
Comprised of Prié Blanc, a native grape of the region, this wine is a great expression of terroir and varietal. It’s bone dry, with razor-sharp acidity and loaded with minerality and flint. It has bright citrus, pear and apple notes. (Rosenthal Wine Merchants)
Matthew Mather, Sommelier, Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
La Castellada’s 2006 Bianco della Castellada from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy.
Made in the village of Oslavje, in Friuli’s Collio Goriziano. Having received four days of skin contact, this rich, textural wine is perfect for the flavors of deep winter, with stone fruit aromas. (Domaine Select Wine Estates)