In my house, for as long as I can remember, we’ve followed the unwritten rule that the period between Halloween and Easter is red wine time. As temperatures drop, there’s comfort in the richness and complexity of those bold, hearty reds.
For those of us obsessed with food and wine pairings, however, white wines cannot be benched for an entire season. There are inevitably meals and occasions where white wine is the answer, even during winter’s coldest evenings. As with red wines, paler picks do have to offer enough heartiness to match seasonal dishes (meaning that zippy Albarino is probably out). Bottles that boast a creamy mouthfeel, touch of sweetness, or nuanced, savory flavors, on the other hand, will do just fine.
Though this region in southern France is more known for its robust reds, it also produces weighty, substantive whites from grapes like Marsanne — like this 100 percent Marsanne bottle. A somewhat muted aroma of honeysuckle and tar transitions into luscious, juicy peaches and touches of grapefruit on the palate, finishing with a pleasant hoppy bitterness.
Wines from Sicily’s emerging grape Grillo can vary widely, from rich and opulent to bright and fresh. This one, a collaboration between Montalcino winemaker Riccardo Campinoti (Le Ragnaie) and his importer Vine Street Imports, finds balance between the two poles, offering wafts of richness before turning crisp. Its oily texture creates depth and heft, featuring tropical fruits, warm spice, Mediterranean herbs and, ultimately, tart lemon.
Off-dry Vouvray is a wonderful choice this time of year, as just enough residual sugar contributes to a mildly plush texture, yet bracing acidity ensures the long, slate-tinged finish doesn’t leave a cloying aftertaste. Featuring limeade-like freshness with a dose of golden delicious apple, this one is a perfect match for Chinese takeout.
More commonly known as Pinot Blanc in most of the winemaking world, this grape is typically relegated to secondary status in regions like Alsace, Baden, and California. But in Italy’s Alto Adige it finds a spiritual home. This bottle showcases the fierce herbal and mineral qualities of the region, rippling through every aspect of the fresh, vibrant wine.
Austrian Grüner Veltliner may set the standard, but this small winery in northeast Pennsylvania is doing wonderful things with the grape. Huge flavors of honey and citrus explode out of the glass, with ripe fruit continuing on the palate. Hints of bitter citrus pith and peppery spice balance out this perceived sweetness as it slowly fades in the mouth. Drink as an aperitif or pair with Indian curry.
Tabarrini chose a fantasy name for this 100 percent Trebbiano Spoletino wine, mostly because of the negative association with Trebbiano Toscano, a similarly named but unrelated (and far less interesting) grape. In fact, Spoletino is more closely related to Greco, which makes well-regarded, bold wines. This explains the intense flavors of papaya, melon, and citrus, nuanced by notes of gunflint and almonds, all of which lead to a long, salty finish.
Not to suggest that orange wines have a season, but these complex, nuanced wines do deserve more introspection than they’re likely to get during a patio session. A red wine-like nose kicks this one off, featuring earth, tar, and even a waft of kirsch, plus of course those typical cider-like notes. On the palate, orange zest, pear and creamsicle transition to a tea-like, surprisingly tannic finish. Great with roast pork.
Verdicchio from Italy’s Marche is probably best known for those fish-shaped bottles that became popular in the 1970s as cheap, everyday quaff; but today it has become arguably Italy’s finest white wine. Those from Jesi, including this stellar effort from Umani Ronchi, feature a dank, resinous quality alongside ripe yellow fruits, as well as lemon and chalk on the extended conclusion. It’s a killer pairing for sage & rosemary roasted chicken.