The definitive winter drinkers survival kit
Swap light and bright for complex and sumptuous, as the temperature dives.
As cooking techniques transfer to a new suite of seasonal ingredients, flavours change from the bright and vibrant to the deep and rich. To help the drinker navigate the cooler seasons and the change in the menus at our favourite restaurants and wine bars, we’ve compiled what amounts to a Winter Drinkers Survival Kit.
It’s our selection of wines, liqueurs and spirits that suit winter drinking–and you’ll be surprised to find that you don’t have to leave behind the warm smiles and sunshine of summer when you go out and socialise.
For many drinkers, white wines relate to the fresh, clean and vibrant food of summer; whites just don’t seem to fit with the slower, deeper and more concentrated flavours of winter.
But as wine styles change to keep up with drinkers’ growing focus on ‘drinkability’, new varieties have emerged that can cross the borders between seasons. Roussanne is one of those wines that makes the argument for white wines that can more than hold their own in winter.
Look for: Michael Hall (Eden Valley); Yelland & Papps (Barossa).
No, I’m not kidding.
Rosé is now a drink for all tastes and for all seasons. For so long a wine whose popularity was determined more by the Bureau of Meteorology than by writers and critics, rosé has matured into a wine with real bandwidth in taste and texture.
While the light, bright and savoury and searingly dry versions from southern France still dominate the market, there are new producers and new regions that are dialling up texture and mouth feel.
Look for: Jilly Wines (New England); Sutton Grange (Bendigo).
In an era where seven of every 10 bottles of wine sold are drunk within 24 hours of purchase, making wines to ‘age’ doesn’t seem make sense. Thankfully, there are still many who still pursue the idea that a wine’s lifespan has several key moments, and the beauty of wine is that is can and will change and develop over time.
Several wineries release their wines with age, saving you the trouble of storing them in your cellar – and having to deal with the inevitable temptation.
Look for: Tyrrells Wines (Hunter Valley); Penfolds (South Australia).
These are the push-button wines made for the drinker in need of a wine fix with no cooling-off period. The term ‘nouveau’ relates most famously to the wines of Beaujolais and the notorious marketing initiative behind ‘beaujolais nouveau’.
Wines are bottled after only a few weeks of fermentation and are released on the third Thursday of November each year. Nouveau has now become a by-word for wines released young … very young. Expect very bright, juicy wines with little tannin and oak. Suits the red wine drinker who can’t let go of summer.
Look for: Jamsheed (Yarra Valley); BK Wines (Adelaide Hills).
Fortified wine is a category that is slowly sinking out of view, and simply isn’t on the radar for many new drinkers. The sad irony is that for many wine producing countries, fortified wines are their best wines – not least in Australia, where Rutherglen liqueur style Muscats and Topaques are some of our highest-rated wines every year. Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean and its deep, rich, spicy fortified wines are a great way to close out dinner, especially with cheese.
With corporate takeovers, acquisitions and huge category investment, the pieces are falling in place for 2018 to be the breakout year for tequila.
Mexico’s most infamous libation will shed its shot-glass stereotype and emerge as a spirit for the discerning drinker; don’t just reach for the whisky bottle as the temperature drops.
As with whisky, both blending and age play a huge role in creating quality tequila. As with most spirit trends in the past 20 years, cocktail culture has acted as something of Trojan horse for spirit brands that had long struggled to appeal to contemporary drinkers.
My epiphany came when I substituted gin for tequila in my Negroni and changed my vodka for tequila in my Bloody Mary. Life hasn’t been the same since.
Tequila brands to look for: Sesion; Volcan De Mi Tierra; Cassamigos.
The original article appeared Robb Report Australia & New Zealand’s May/June edition. To enjoy more content like this subscribe to the magazine here