Thursday is National Drink Wine day and if that fact alone doesn’t make you smile, you can cheer to the many health benefits of wine consumption, including lowering risks for liver disease, type two diabetes, heart attack, stroke and some cancers.
During the chilly winter months, red wines are usually all the rage, which leave white wine lovers out in the cold. But, drinking any wine actually makes you feel warm because alcohol causes the blood vessels in your skin to dilate, which increases the volume of blood to the skin’s surface. That gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.
So on this day dedicated to popping our corks, here are five essential winter whites that will make you as warm as your favorite cashmere blanket:
While overly oaky chardonnay gets a bad rap, there’s nothing like a perfectly balanced, oaked chard to warm you up from the inside out. A kiss of oak can add enticing notes of vanilla and spice to the finished wine while transforming this grape’s fresh fruity flavors into spiced, baked apple and pear, which is perfect for the winter season.
Recommendation: Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma, California ($38)
Pronounced vee-on-yay, this grape produces luscious, aromatic white wines with opulent notes of white flowers, tropical fruit and spice. Originally from the France’s Rhone Valley, lovely examples are also currently produced in California, Washington and Australia. Examples from warmer climates are generally richer and fuller-bodied due to the ripeness of the fruit.
Recommendation: Yalumba Organic Viognier, South Australia, Australia ($20)
This is not a grape, rather a style of wine that is often tarter and less sweet than other white wines. It was first introduced by legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi in the late 1960’s which he named after the Loire Valley’s Pouilly-Fumé, a wine famous for its smokey quality. Fumé Blanc is generally 100 pecent sauvignon blanc and have received some oak treatment, which gives it a delicious spice and richness to this usually crisp, citrusy grape.
Recommendation: Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley, California ($32)
This grape produces wines with flamboyant aromas and flavors of lychee, ginger, rosewater and passion fruit. Typically grown in France, Germany, Italy and Austria, Gewürztraminer has been referred to as a “vinous curry” since it produces wines with such complex and varied aromatics. These viscous wines can be found in dry and off-dry styles and are the perfect accompaniment for an evening by the fire.
Recommendation: Paul Blanck Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France ($25)
Late Harvest Wines:
A late harvest wine is simply one whose grapes were harvested later in the season, allowing them to develop higher sugars, resulting in a sweet wine. Made from a variety of different grapes depending on the region, these deliciously viscous wines are usually too heavy and sweet for warmer months, but make the perfect wintry, post-dinner treat. Since they’re more concentrated and decadent than dry wines, a little goes a long way.
Recommendation: Duckhorn Knight’s Valley Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, California ($45/375mL)
Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique. She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.