THE onset of autumnal conditions always has me eyeing the fortified wine sections as the allure of something sweet and warming to match puddings and cheeses becomes too much to resist.
Furthermore, next week is chocolate week (October 9 to 15) which may beg the eternal question what wine for chocolate?
Similarly, reds are needed for hefty casserole and fireside duties and I have one that more than fills those requirements.
And, as I reach a stage in life where one eye must be fixed firmly on cholesterol levels, tucking into meat dishes and red wine must be balanced against the need to eat plenty of fish and vegetables.
That’s where winter white wines come in and strangely enough rosé.
Rosé, a wine very much associated with the summer, can be great with Asian dishes and the best solution for a tomatobased pasta dish such as amatriciana – very much a favourite in my household.
Brindisi Rosato Vigna Flaminio, Vallone 2016 (£7.75 Wine Society)
The Wine Society has an array of lovely rosé from delicate cream soda Provence styles to wine with a bit more punch such as this rosé from the Salento peninsula in Puglia. (Much of it is still on special offer as the society looks to clear the shelves ahead of winter.)
It had just
Pellegrino Passito di Pantelleria 2016
enough flavour and weight to deal with the pinch of red chilli and the smoked bacon in my amatriciana. The nose suggests orange zest and rose water while the palate is generous with plenty of red fruits and acidity. I look forward to trying it with spaghetti and prawns in tomato sauce.
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 (£13.99 from Fenwick Ltd, The Framlingham Wine Shop, Swift Wines, Italian Continental Stores, Bubbles And Wine Ltd, Direct Wines, Amazon)
Rhône whites can make the perfect winter wines and this one made a superb match for a punchy Iberian style dish of cod cheeks with spinach and chickpeas laced with fresh red chilli and saffron.
It’s a blend of six varieties, with Viognier making up 65pc and the rest taken up by a heady mix of marsanne, clairette, bourboulenc and grenache blanc.
It makes for an exotically spicy white but one that retains freshness and acidity across its peach-laden palate. Sumptuous and satisfying.
Alto Rouge 2014 (£9.50 Morrisons)
A classic New World red made in South Africa from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. Spicy vanila and leather on the nose with plums and damsons in the mouth, this is not a hugely complex wine but is satisfying nevertheless and a nice wine to crack open on a chilly night.
Pellegrino Passito di Pantelleria DOC 2016 RRP (£11.49 (37.5cl) from Amazon, Campbells of Leyburn, D.Byrne & Co. 2015 vintage from Eton Vintners, Wineman, South Downs Cellars)
My first taste of Passito di Pantelleria, (Pantelleria being an island off the south west coast of Sicily) came in the form of Donnafugato’s Ben Rye, and this is equally delicious. Made from the Zibibbo grape, the wine is made by placing the grapes in a drying room much like Amarone or Valpolicella ripasso.
The grapes gain a sweet raisin character after being dried for 30 days and make for a sticky dessert wine which you can match with chocolate puddings.
However, you may find you’ll enjoy this passito even more on its own or with Gorgonzola and fruit.
“You may find you’ll enjoy this passito even more with Gorgonzola and fruit”