If you’re anything like us during the winter, you’ll already be deep in hibernation mode. The cooler months are meant for cosying up indoors, bingeing on Netflix and working your way through your entire cheese collection. When it’s cold outside, the last thing you want to do is go out and socialise.
But for the food lovers and entertainers of the group, winter doesn’t have to turn you into a complete recluse. Having your friends or partner over for a gourmet feast is the perfect way to get your kicks without having to brave the elements.
And so, to inspire your next dinner party spread – or if you’re feeling brave, your next meal out – we’ve enlisted the help of Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director at wine retailer Cellarmasters, to give us the lowdown on how to pick a perfectly paired drop.
“During winter we tend to crave not only richer and heartier meals, but also more robust wines,” says Christine. So, whether you’re craving a rich Italian pizza or a succulent chargrilled steak, Christine has selected her favourite winter wine and food pairings, guaranteed to warm you up this chilly season.
Steak with Shiraz
Shiraz wines from warm climates like the Barossa or McLaren Vale are robust with rich, ripe fruit sweetness, making them the perfect accompaniment to a hearty steak. The generous fruit flavours of a warm climate Shiraz will balance the saltiness of the meat, while the spiciness of the wine will add complex flavours to the pairing.
Wine recommendation: Duval Affinis Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016
Pizza with Sangiovese
Sangiovese is Italy’s most popular grape. You can expect fine tannins and flavours of plum, cherry and sour cherry in this overall food-friendly red wine. The fruit-forward characters in the wine will balance the savouriness of the pizza toppings, while the high acidity in the wine pairs beautifully with the pizza’s rich tomato base and the soft tanginess of melted mozzarella.
Wine recommendation: Altero Sangiovese 2018
Truffles with Pinot Noir
The “black diamonds” of the earth are the perfect pairing to Pinot Noir, arguably the world’s most prestigious grape. The ethereal, earthy and fruit characters of a more robust Pinot matches well with the strong flavours of the truffles. For the ultimate pairing, choose a region that produces both Pinot Noir and truffles – like Tasmania!
Wine recommendation: Riversdale Estate Centauraus Reserve Tasmania Pinot Noir 2017
Lamb Roast with Cabernet Sauvignon
The deep, intense fruit notes and firm tannin structure of a Cabernet match well with rich textured lamb. The mint and herb flavours of a Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly from the Coonawarra region in South Australia, are the ultimate pairing to lamb – especially if you’re serving the meat with a traditional mint sauce.
Wine recommendation: Riddoch E.k. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Sitchu tip: Craving a Sunday roast but can't be bothered to cook? Head to Lezzet Anatolian Kitchen in Elwood, for their 24-hour slow-cooked roast lamb with a Turkish twist. It's one of our faves.
Chicken Wonton Soup with Riesling
Chicken wonton soup is comfort in a bowl and this warming dish calls for a glass of Riesling. The citrusy, floral notes will mesh well with the fragrant broth, chewy noodles and meaty wontons.
Wine recommendation: Mockingbird Hill Slate Lane Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2017
Roast Chicken with Chardonnay
Chardonnay is the perfect winter white due to its richer texture. Chardonnay and chicken are considered one of the best food and wine pairings in the world. For an ideal accompaniment to a warming roast chicken dinner, opt for an oaked Chardonnay with rich, creamy and toasty characters supporting the natural peach, melon and tropical fruit flavours.
Wine recommendation: Eastern Reach Eden Valley Chardonnay
Camembert with Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a complex, delicate wine, and the lightness of the red wine pairs well with a rich, soft cheese like Camembert. The earthy and bright berry flavours of the wine also goes beautifully with the earthy taste of the cheese.
Wine recommendation: Dovetail Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2018