‘Wine is sunlight held together by water,’ Galileo

Winter Wine Drinking
What am I drinking this winter?
In the summer, I go for wines that are refreshing. I know I’m not alone in that. Cool, crisp whites made from high-acid grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and clean fresh Rieslings and Chardonnays. When I drink Reds I go for a lighter style and Chilean Pinot Noir has been my find of the summer – great value yet still identifiable as Pinot Noir. Rosé is great when the sun’s out.

Then, at the end of September, I turn my back on those wines and barely encounter them for the next six months. Cold wet days; long dark nights; frost in the morning; ice in the evening. I need something to restore morale; and I go for the biggest wines I can find. There’s a scientific basis for this.  Galileo, one of the fathers of modern science said, ‘Wine is sunlight held together by water,’ he may well have been speaking metaphorically (in fact there’s no doubt that he was) but I don’t let that stop me when it comes to pegging out a theory.


So my philosophy is to go for wines from the warmest climates, packed with the most fruit. I go for Australian Shiraz; Chilean Merlot; Wines from the Rhone; the Pays d’Oc and occasionally Bordeaux. I love wines made from Primitivo in Puglia at the heel of Italy; Beautiful reds from Valdepenas burnished with oak and smoky South Africans plump with fruit. At the end of a meal a little Port is unbeatable, not just for the wine itself but for the memories it evokes of winters passed.

What about whites? In winter I like them to be delicious full of flavour – a good weight of fruit and judiciously oaked if from a cooler climate. White burgundy is the finest wine for sitting in winter sunshine sitting with your coat on. Viognier can provide the most vivid flecks of colour on the drabbest of days – look for south Australian; Southern French or Californian ones. My favourite winter whites, though, come from grapes which have been harvested late in the year. So late that a touch of botrytis has affected the fruit. This produces a wine which has a round, rich, ripe concentrated fruit flavour. Look out for wines from Northern Italy – Gavi; Lugana and Verdicchio di Matelica.

The exception to this ‘sunny wines’ theory is Champagne. Throughout the winter, despite that region’s marginal climate, I love to drink it for the obvious reason that nothing can so quickly make the world seem like such a brighter place.
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As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.

 

 

Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!

 

Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.

 

Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.

 

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.

 

Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch. 

 

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