While the Aussie winter can’t exactly be described as extreme, there is still a significant difference in the styles of food and wine reached for during the colder months. Hearty winter dishes like roasts and stews take favour over the loved summer barbie, and as such, it makes sense that crisp, acidic whites move over to make room for richer, more dimensional wines too.
Often, this means opting for a bottle of red wine, as the richer fruit, often higher alcohol content and jammy characters are themselves warming to drink and more suited to heavier dishes with higher meat and fat components. Of course, serving temperature also comes into play, with red wines optimally served at room temperature.
The full-bodied, intensity of a Barossa Shiraz or spicy complexity of a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon are the usual suspects found accompanying winter roasts. Merlot and Cabernet Merlot, while not as full bodied, are exceptional food wines due to their round palate and smooth profile. Look to Western Australia for these wines, with recent vintages producing some excellent wines.
Pinot Noir, which can be enjoyed slightly chilled in the Summer months also has a place when the mercury drops. It’s lighter style is a great choice to accompany game dishes, pasta or roast pork. New Zealand’s Central Otago region is the fail-safe choice for a good pinot, however Aussie pinot is hot on it’s heels, and there are some really exceptional pinot’s being produced in southern Victoria and Tasmania.
But if you prefer white wine, you may be surprised to know there are a number of styles perfectly suited to heartier meals. Look for words like ‘mouth-filling’, ‘rich’, ‘layered’ and ‘complex’ on the label with relatively high alcohol content. These will be the trick to…
Oaked chardonnay, with it’s full flavour, creamy palate and nutty characters is a great choice alongside a rich roast turkey or chicken. Chardonnay also works nicely with rich, buttery sauces so pair it with creamy pasta dishes.
Dry rieslings, like the ones produced in the Clare and Eden Valleys are perfectly suited to food pairing with spicy Asian dishes. So when a hot chicken laksa or prawn curry is on the menu, look no further.
Aged Hunter Valley Semillon also develops a complexity of flavours with notes of smoke and honey after ageing for 5 years or thereabouts. Enjoy it with smoked duck, roast pork, seafood chowder or barbecued fish.
Those ultra-sweet, sticky dessert wines are often too heavy in the warmer months, but during winter, they come into their own. Enjoy as a dessert in and of itself or in tandem with a cheese plate or slightly salty dessert. Perfectly savoured in front of an open fire with a good book!
If you’re still shivering after all that then you may need to up the ante and crank up the stove to make a decent batch of mulled wine, which can sort of be described as hot sangria! We’ve put together a simple recipe if you’re feeling adventurous.
Mulled Wine Recipe
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 150g castor sugar
- Large piece of orange peel (avoid the pith)
- Large piece of lemon peel (avoid the pith)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 1 whole nutmeg, grated
- 2 star anise
- 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
- Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved. Keep over the heat for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Be careful not to let it boil.
Our top ten Aussie Winter Wine picks;
- Concerto Shiraz (Barossa Valley SA)
- DiGiorgio Lucindale Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra SA)
- Grant Burge Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre (Barossa Valley)
- Hartz Barn ‘General Store’ Riesling (Eden Valley SA)
- Jones Road Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula VIC)
- Knee Deep Cabernet Merlot (Margaret River WA)
- Leogate Reserve Semillon (Hunter Valley NSW)
- Stonefish Merlot (Great Southern WA)
- Tempus Two Botrytis Semillon (Griffith NSW)
- Wignalls Premium Chardonnay (Albany WA)