One of the beauties of the coldest season is its affinity with hearty meals accompanied by a glass of good red.
Ialways know when winter has properly arrived in my neck of the woods, as the cats all migrate to the back of the sofa that has a big radiator behind it and the dogs look rather unenthusiastic when the morning alarm goes off – clearly, frosty-paw runs in the dark aren’t that appealing. But I’m pleased to live somewhere that has genuine seasons.
Come winter I’m ready to rug up warmly and dig out the ski boots. I love the freezing, sunny days with bright, crisp air, and the occasional joy of waking up to a silent, snow-covered landscape. It’s a time to enjoy soups and stews left to bubble aromatically on top of the fire; and it brings a renewed interest in red wines, as their robust, warming character seems to match both the heartier seasonal fare and bracing weather.
Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, there’s some evidence red wines assist with lowering bad cholesterol and preventing blood clots – that said, they should still only be consumed in moderation!
Mainly though, red wines just taste good. Their robust structure means they partner well with red meat and richer dishes, where the astringency of tannins provides a helpful foil. Here in New Zealand, pinot noir is our most popular red, but we’re also very good at growing stylish cabernet sauvignon and merlot, spicy syrah and many more jewel-coloured treasures.
Red wines respond well to decanting, as it brings out their aromas and flavour and helps them to open up. Feel free to dust off your crystal decanter if you’re so inclined, but there’s no real need – just tip your bottle of red into a jug and then back into the bottle again, allowing the fruit to shine and tannins to soften. Almost all wines benefit from this aeration (including whites) so give your next bottle a literal whirl and be amazed at the difference.