Something's been bugging the hell out of us lately. We can't understand why, come the first frost, people suddenly become allergic to drinking white wines. While you might think it horribly uncool to wear white after Labor Day, there is absolutely zero reason to stop drinking white wines once the days start growing shorter. Don't get us wrong: When it comes to our favorite fermented beverage, we understand that it's as important to drink seasonally as it is to eat seasonally. But as part of the one and only wine resolution we asked you to make for 2012, why not explore the nearly endless assortment of voluptuous, luscious whites that just happen to be tailor-made for pairing with heartier fare? Below, we dismantle three of the most common excuses you might be clinging to -- and explain why you definitely ought to reach for a bottle of white on a chilly winter's night:
Red wines always pair best with cold-weather dishes: Cider-glazed pork chops. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Butternut squash risotto, topped with a seared sea scallop. Oysters on the half shell. All dishes that practically scream winter, no? We're ballsy enough to put it out there: Each and every one of these dishes would be far better served with a white wine than a red one. Red wines that would taste great on their own likely include too-big tannins and blackout-inducing alcohol levels that would stomp all over these plates. Don't believe us? Try slurping down a few Fanny Bays with a glass of shiraz and let us know how that works out for you.
But I only crave full-bodied wines this time of year: Just like there are whisper-soft, feather-light reds, white wines also come in all manner of weight categories ranging from delicate to downright dominant. So now's the time to get hip to the fact that wines which happen to be lighter in color don't necessarily come up short when it comes to delivering substantial weight and major flavor punch in every sip. Medium- to full-bodied white grapes like pinot gris, chardonnay, viognier, and grenache blanc -- each of which offer round, ripe, mouth-filling qualities -- make for perfect sipping next to the fireplace.
White wines are way too cold to drink when it's chilly outside: It's true - they are. But it's likely due to the fact that the whites typically served in restaurants (and don't for a second think you at-home drinkers aren't just as guilty) are about fifteen degrees colder than they should be, especially if the weather's frightful. It's recommended that certain white wine varieties -- like the ones mentioned above -- should actually be served somewhere between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. No need to invest in a fancy wine thermometer though; just be sure and pull the bottle out of the fridge about fifteen minutes before you plan to serve it and you'll get pretty close to where you need to be. Wondering what to do if you get served a too-cold wine at a restaurant? Cup the wine glass between your hands to help it warm up. And be sure to school your server (politely) on the service temperature fail -- thereby paying it forward for the next guest.
Check out a few of our favorite winter whites:
Tommasone "Pithecusa" Bianco 2009 ($20): A scrumptious fifty-fifty blend of indigenous Campagnia grapes fiano and biancolella (just imagine an interesting spin on a clean, no-oak chard and you'll get the picture). Major flavors of apple crisp, topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Pair with mussels and fries, or cioppino.
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Scarpetta Friulano 2009 ($25): Bright and engaging, we loved all the complex, gripping minerality this wine brought in spades. Paired with an unctuously rich hors d'oeuvre of chicken liver mousse, it made for the perfect palate scraping (yet endlessly satisfying) wintertime treat.
Sineann 'Jezebel' 2009 ($17): In a word, juicy. A lip-smackingly tasty blend of gewürztraminer, pinot gris and riesling, kissed with lemon zest and lychee. This delightful, not-too-sweet bottling impressed us as a particularly stellar food wine -- drink it alongside something porky.