Winter cuisine calls for richer, more full-bodied wines
John Wilson picks some of the best sparkling, white and red wines to go with winter meals
John Wilson’s selection of sparkling, white and red wines for your winter menus cost from €7.86 to €65. Photograph: iStock/Getty
In this difficult year, we may not be able to go out to restaurants as much as we might like, or entertain large crowds, but enjoying good food at home has been one of the few upsides for many people over the past eight months.
Big parties may not be possible, but dining with a few family members or friends is something many of us still look forward to.
An added benefit of drinking at home is that wine is considerably less expensive when you are not paying restaurant prices.
As winter deepens, we start eating richer foods. Winter means game, rich beef stews, slow braises, hearty soups and creamy pies. It means roast root vegetables and squashes and assorted brassicas.
The French would eat cassoulet, choucroute garni, beef bourguignon and pot-au-feu, and the Spanish look to fabadas and other rich bean and pork stews as well as hearty soups.
Here, too, we turn our attention to warming stews, slow-cooked braises and the treat of a great big roast.
All of the above styles of cuisine call out for richer, more full-bodied wines. Here is my hand-picked selection of the best of the sparkling, white and red wines, costing from €7.86 to €65, to go with your winter menus.
Filipa Pato 3B Sparkling Rosé, Extra Bruto
Filipa Pato is one of Portugal’s leading winemakers; this rosé is a captivating wine with juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruits, finishing dry. Great with canapés or sushi.
Stockists: Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Loose Canon, Dublin 2, loosecanon.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, clontarfwines.ie; First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8, firstdraftcoffeandwine.com; Sweeneys Dublin 3, sweeneysd3.ie
L’Atavique Tradition Verzy-Grand Cru, Sebastien Mouzon-Leroux & Fils
For when a little indulgence is needed. A very fine, elegant Champagne with brioche aromas, bright lively lightly honeyed orchard fruits, and an amazingly long, bone dry finish. By itself or with cheese sablés.
Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Fish Shop, D7, Fish-shop.ie
Vallis Quitus Viognier IGP Vaucluse 2019
Voluptuous rich soft peach and pear fruits with hints of spice and just enough acidity to keep it fresh and interesting. Chicken and pork dishes; a creamy chicken curry sounds good.
Stockists: Lidl, lidl.ie
Solas Viognier Réserve 2019, Laurent Miquel
This is a delicious rich-textured Viognier with plush creamy peach fruits cut through nicely with a vibrant acidic streak. Perfect with mild chicken curries, or pork in a creamy mushroom sauce.
Stockists: Dunnes Stores, Dunnes- stores.com
Les Hauts de Montarels Chardonnay Fût 2018, IGP Côtes de Thongue
Voluptuous ripe exotic fruit overlaid with vanilla and spice. Serve with roast butternut squash, turbot or chicken in a creamy sauce.
Stockists: Boutiquewines.ie; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey, Barnhillstores.ie; The Grape & Grain, Co Dublin, Leopardstowninn.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; The Hole in the Wall, Dublin 7; Emilie’s, Glenbeigh, Emilies.ie; Pat FitzGerald’s Centra, Dingle; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; The Wine Pair, D8
Verus Pinot Gris 2018, Stajerska, Slovenia
Bursting with aromas and fruit; ripe juicy melons, an exotic touch, spicy notes and perfect balancing acidity. Serve with mushroom risotto, pork with mushrooms, or haddock smokies.
Stockists: Cabot and Co, Westport, Cabotandco.com; Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; No 1 Pery Square, Limerick, Oneperysquare.com; PoppySeed, Clarinbridge, PoppySeed.ie; Market57, Westport; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie
Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages Blanc Les Daurele 2019, Domaine de l’Amauve
Very seductive textured ripe peaches and nectarines that linger beautifully. With cauliflower cheese or Asian stir-fried prawns.
Stockists: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie
Mora & Memo Tino Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
A mere 12.5% alcohol yet it packs in a huge amount of flavour; honey, marzipan and succulent pineapples, finishing dry. Try this with scallops, or a creamy fish pie.
Stockists: Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Nectar Wines, D18, nectarwines.com
Specially Selected Costières de Nîmes 2019
Rich and rounded with soft spicy strawberry and plum fruits. Serve this one with a warming winter beef casserole or some venison.
Stockists: Aldi, Aldi.ie
Château La Condamine Cuvée Tradition 2017, Corbières
Full-bodied and powerful, this is the perfect winter warmer, with big ripe meaty dark fruits and well-integrated tannins. With substantial casseroles and grilled red meats.
Stockists: Boutiquewines.ie; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey, Barnhillstores.ie; The Grape & Grain, Co Dublin, Leopardstowninn.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; The Hole in the Wall, Dublin 7; Emilie’s, Glenbeigh, Emilies.ie; Pat FitzGerald’s Centra, Dingle; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; The Wine Pair, D8.
El Salvaje Malbec 2015, Casa de Uco, IG Los Chacayes, Argentina
14%, €16.95, down from €19.95
Nice violet aromas, lively ripe loganberry and blackcurrant, with a lightly spicy finish. Perfect with steak, empanadas, or pasta with chorizo.
Stockists: O’Briens, Obrienswine.ie
Gaivosa Primeiros Anos 2017, Douro, Alves de Sousa
Packed with rich ripe dark forest fruits and hints of dark chocolate and spice. Try it with a slow roasted belly of pork or grilled duck breast.
Stockists: Wines on the Green, Dublin 2, Celticwhiskeyshop.com
Chapelle de Potensac 2015, Médoc
A very superior Bordeaux with classic restrained blackcurrants and cassis, a lovely purity of fruit and fine tannins on the lengthy finish. Bring this out when you are serving a plain roast of lamb or beef.
Stockists: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie
Roda I Rioja Reserva 2015
Fragrant, smooth and powerful with plush forest fruits, dark chocolate, spices and tobacco. Perfect for that ultimate home dinner. The importer recommends a loin of venison with butternut squash purée.
Stockists: 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Avoca, Ballsbridge & Monkstown, Avoca.com; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, D3, Clontarfwines.ie; Deveney’s, D14, Deveneys.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; Nectar Wines, D18, nectarwines.com; The GrapeVine, D9; The Vintry, D6, Vintry.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; Wineonline.ie; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie