Winter is here, and it’s all about hearty comfort foods and delicious, warming wines. In winter our food tastes lean towards rich, robust meaty dishes that often involve complex sauces or broths with abundant savoury spice and flavourings, or nourishing winter root vegetables with sweet, deep, earthy notes. These foods, on the whole, are simply crying out for a medium to full-bodied red to share their table. Bold fruit, aromatic spice, velvety tannins and generous oak warmth are the ideal accompaniments to rich winter fare.
But which variety works best with which food? As always, there are no hard and fast rules, and often the cooking method and sauce play as much a part as the star ingredient of the dish. Experimentation and personal taste are always the name of the game when pairing wine and food, however to get you started, here are a few of our favourite winter matches.
While winter is generally the domain of the reds, full bodied whites shouldn’t be ruled out. Chardonnay is the go-to white for winter and matches deliciously with seafood chowders and rich chicken dishes like casseroles, butter chicken or chicken and leek pie. It’s also great with roast turkey or pork with apples and complements the earthy sweetness of winter vegetables like pumpkin, parsnips, leeks, carrots, celeriac and cauliflower.
Try Red Label Chardonnay with roast pumpkin, chicken and leek risotto.
At the lighter end of the red spectrum, Pinot Noir loves complex earthy flavours. Its balanced acidity and fine structural tannins work really well with rich, fatty meats like duck and pork belly, and it’s a great match with the gamey flavours of quail or pigeon. Pinot Noir also works well with the meaty flavours of mushrooms and the sweet earthiness of beetroot.
Try Yellow Label Pinot Noir with pork and white bean cassoulet.
Merlot can be a great choice with tomato-based dishes that can sometimes be tricky to match with wine. Rich pasta sauces, and charcuterie flavours of bacon, prosciutto, pancetta, smoked ham hocks, and sausages are ideal with Merlot, as are lighter red meats like veal, pork and young lamb. The soft fruit and low levels of tannin also mean it can be a great accompaniment for milder, aromatic and creamy curries of beef or lamb.
Try Yellow Label Merlot with lamb korma.
The light, spicy fruitiness and minimal tannin of Shiraz Grenache is delicious with glazed sticky pork ribs, Chinese barbecued duck or steamed pork buns, barbecue flavoured meats like pulled pork, and Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai red-meat curries like beef rendang, Massaman and satay.
Try Red Label Shiraz Grenache with Thai Massaman beef curry.
Malbec’s medium body, fine dark fruit and spice flavours lend it to delicious pairings with lean game meats like kangaroo or venison and is a great match with chargrilled liver. Beetroot is a firm friend as are the flavours of Portuguese and Argentinian style roast meats and Mexican dishes like beef enchiladas or chilli con carne.
Try Gold Label Langhorne Creek Malbec with Argentinian barbecued goat with chimichurri sauce.
Cabernet Sauvignon has hints of herbaceousness in its flavour profile, so it’s a great choice with dishes that are flavoured with herbs like rosemary, sage, mint or fennel. It’s perfect with strong, warm and earthy flavours and can stand up to the most robust and flavoursome foods. It’s best to avoid pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with curries, however, as the strong tannins tend to clash with hot spices. Lamb is a long-standing favourite, whether a roast leg, a slow-cooked shoulder, braised shanks or a shepherd’s pie. The slight bitterness of chargrilled meats matches well with Cabernet, as does roast beef or Chinese beef and black bean sauce.
Try Gold Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon with slow roasted garlic-studded lamb with fresh mint sauce.
Shiraz is the perfect match for all things rich and hearty. The bold, round, fruity flavours suit stews, casseroles and Moroccan tagines, dark fruit-based and spiced sauces, steak and kidney pie, beef, lamb, venison, kangaroo and most notably, juicy steak cuts like rump or rib-eye. Softer, fruitier Shiraz can work well with Indian curries, as long as the tannin level is not too high.
Try Yellow Label Shiraz with Moroccan Lamb with Prunes and Preserved Lemon
Luscious Australian tawnies are the perfect end to a winter evening. Sweet and strong, they are the ideal winter warmers and match well with cheese, dried fruits, rich steamed puddings and desserts flavoured with nuts, chocolate or caramel.
Try Yellow Label Reserve Australian Tawny with Tawny Cherry and Walnut Brownies.