White Wine for any Season
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White Wine for any Season

February 16, 2017

A big glass of red is sure to relieve the winter chill, but it would be foolish to dismiss white wine altogether. Here’s why.

Although white may not replicate the feeling a full-bodied red from the Barossa can achieve, white wine can be an invaluable part of your vinous repertoire at this time of year, if you give it a chance.

There are a few things to consider in this decision-making process. White wine is actually not too dissimilar to red wine as the juice of both white and red grapes is white. It is the time spent on skins, the red ones that is, that makes a wine red. There is no special treatment, other than extended skin contact during fermentation, and nowadays, there is an entire category of white wines treated the very same way. In some instances of extreme skin contact white wines can become orange wines, but that is an entirely different story.

A common misconception is that white wine must be served at three degrees straight from the fridge, however, just because we do this in the warmer months does not mean it has to continue through autumn and winter. There is no binding agreement with the bottle that requires this to be so prescriptive and there are in fact a number of white wines that can be served at "red wine temperatures", roughly 12 to 15 degrees, with ease. Not everyone will enjoy holding a frosted glass at this time of year, and if you are one of those people it may be time to get the white wines out of the chiller!

Winter whites

White wines that are better suited to a less chilled temperature are those that are innately bigger, including grapes from Rhone – Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. These three grapes have markedly lower acid levels, a fuller fruit expression and can even feel waxy at times. They’re big and they’re bold, just like a glass of red. Chardonnay too benefits from this ever so slightly warmer serving temperature and it is also aged in barrels, so it has more in common with its red counterparts then you may think.

Top white drops for winter

Tahbilk Marsanne

This Marsanne is excellent value for money and not only does it present itself as the perfect white to pair with roast pork chops this season, but it will also will age beautifully should decide to pop it into the cellar for a decade too.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier

The Y Series Viognier is another terrific value winter white that punches well above its price range. It is rich and generous with classic Viognier notes of apricots and delicate floral notes. If you like Chardonnay, it is very likely you’ll enjoy this, so if you’re searching for something a little different look no further.

The Story Westgate White Blend

A wonderful blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viogner, there really is no better way to put it. A glorious scented wine with lovely generosity of palate without being flabby and while it is a perfect partner for a simple roast chook, this wine will easily step up to pair with the rich flavour of roast pork too.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay

This is the style of Chardonnay that you can serve at room temperature (and remember room temperature is not whatever the heater says it is, it is no more than 18 degrees). The Prelude Chardonnay has bags of fruit and subtle barrel complexity like many a red. It is creamy with nutty notes from the barrel which make this a complex and enjoyable winter white. This is best served with some nice hard cheddar or an oven roasted piece of hapuka with a side of roast potatoes.

Remember that as white wine ages it becomes richer and more generous, so you can expect that over time all of these whites will take on a broader and fuller expression. If you’re patient, you can even start your own winter white cellar program at home by simply buying a few more bottles and stowing them away for year or two. Most importantly, don’t neglect your whites this winter. They can be a wonderful addition to any cool weather occasion and are surprisingly satisfying despite common preconceptions, and the above list is a great place to start.