With Summer coming to an end, I’ve been thinking a lot about white wines lately…like, a LOT.
This is unusual for me! I’ve never been much of a drinker of white wines, but this year I’ve been exploring different varietals and cultivating an unexpected appreciation of them.
Naturally, when you first fall in love you don’t want to be separated – especially not for months at a time – so I’ve embarked on a more in-depth exploration of whites to find a few I can enjoy during the cooler seasons.
While researching new varietals to try, I had some real head-scratching moments. Riesling? In the Winter? It seemed to be the perfect poolside wine – I’d never imagined drinking it fireside. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there are different kinds of Rieslings beyond “sweet” or “dry.” There are luscious, aged Rieslings from Germany boasting a higher alcohol content with which to warm you up rather than cool you down; Rieslings from Alsace with the acidity to counter hearty soups & stews and the minerality to balance the rich, creamy sauces and we love when the weather turns cold. And unlike some other white varieties, European Rieslings improve with age, developing a wonderful richness and complexity. Oh, the joy!
White Burgundy is another excellent choice. Le Montrachet, made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes (and with a pricetag that most of the 99% can’t afford), has long been considered the greatest white wine produced in France. “It should be drunk,” Alexandre Dumas said, “on one’s knees with hat in hand.” Fortunately for us, there are wineries in the Mâcon and Pouilly regions of Burgundy which make lovely and inexpensive whites that, at around $15-20 a bottle, won’t break the bank.
From Italy, I discovered Roncús 2001 Bianco Vecchie Vigne, a nutty, Malvasia-heavy white blend touted as “a perfect winter white.” Coming from a region with a notable focus on terroir over fruit-forward flavors, this wine is rich and creamy with fragrant layers of stone and passion fruits, honeysuckle and drying mineral tones, carrying the perfect weight and flavor profile to complement even the heartiest winter fare.
What did I learn? I’d have to say that, if you are as serious about food as you are about wine – and even more importantly – if you’re searching for a wine to pair with your favorite cold-weather recipes, look to the colder regions of Europe for your winter whites. With centuries of experience under their collective vintner belts, they know what they’re doing!