Winter Wines: what to drink in the coming months
Great Autumn & Winter Wines for 2016
How can we start to talk about winter wines? Imagine this scenario: a rainy day of November, a glass of a rich full-bodied wine and you, just relaxing after a busy day. I personally believe life does not get much better than this… and I am sure that this statement is going to find a huge number of followers out there!
For many of us, the changing seasons come with changing preferences in wine. The crisp whites we crave in Summer, give way to heartier reds in the Autumn and Winter months.
Finding wines enjoyable during the cold season is not at all difficult. This is because we have a wider range of options available. From celebratory Vintage Champagnes, to full-bodied red wines; from rich whites, to luxurious fortified wines.
As usual, personal preference trumps everything else. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you to decide which wines you can choose in the coming months.
THE SECRETS FOR A PERFECT BODY: ALCOHOL & GLYCEROL
Since I am a Sommelier, you may have guessed that we are talking about the body of a wine (no pun intended, huh?). These are characteristics extremely important to match our favourite Winter dishes. We all know what alcohol is, but what about glycerol? And why is it a key element in wine body and viscosity?
Glycerol comes from the synthesis of glucose within yeast cells during fermentation. It is the most abundant compound in wine after water and alcohol. The richer (in sugars) the grapes, the more alcohol and glycerol you may get in your glass. Although glycerol is not as important as alcohol to increase the body of a wine, it does play a substantial part due to its “almost sweet” taste. Cool climate wine regions usually do not have the right conditions during the Summer to develop high levels of sugar concentration in their grapes, so it is better to look South… or North depending on which hemisphere you are in!
TANNICITY: A POLYHEDRIC ALLY IN WINTER WINES
Tannins are naturally occurring polyphenols that are present in wine grapes seeds and skins in particular. They are most commonly found in red wines, but we shall not forget orange wines too. Those wines are made by leaving the must in contact with the skins for a few days during the fermentation. Tannins add both bitterness and astringency to a wine, but they are also able to increase its complexity and texture.
They are very popular among Chefs and Sommeliers for their ability to elegantly cleanse the palate from greasy and fatty foods. So, you can now understand why tannic wines are definitely something you do not want to run out of during the Winter season!
RESIDUAL SUGARS CAN BE YOUR FRIENDS
In wine tasting you always need to keep in mind that sweetness decreases the sensation of acidity – a.k.a. freshness. In fact, in one of the last posts on our Blog, we said that this was one of the arguments for avoiding wines with residual sugars during the Summer. For exactly the same reason, we can now say that residual sugars can be helpful in the coming months, as they particularly increase body, viscosity and the general mouth-feel sensations of the wine.
In addition, sweet (or slightly sweet) wines are very popular matchings for aged and blue cheeses… well, I feel Christmassy already!
Now, let’s go out there and find perfect companions for the cold months! ;-)
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