Friday, November 23, 2007

Winter Whites

Fall weather and then winter, with cozy fireplaces, hot stoves, and wool sweaters make me think of braises, stews, and other hearty food. And usually that means red wine. Who could argue with a red Burgundy to pair with your braised beef in red wine and a crusty baguette?

I'm certainly not here to argue, and I love exactly that pairing. So why do I find myself so drawn to white wines these evenings, even as all the leaves have finally turned yellow and red on our block and we need to turn the heat on at night? Now we eat root vegetables and soups with lamb and beans and things like that, but I'm looking through our reds to find the right wine and I come back with a cold, crisp, and complex bottle of white wine. "Don't worry honey, I think it will pair just right."

Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't, but it's what I crave lately. And I don't think the explanation is as simple as I'm having trouble letting go of summer. Nope. I just like the way the brightness of the whites is working for me, even with traditionally red wine foods like steak.

Here are a couple of whites I've enjoyed lately with fall food:

2006 Nigl Gruner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit, (about $18, widely available). We opened this to have with seared scallops, to be honest, but the next night it was wonderful with porkchops and butternut squash. Not a full bodied wine by any means, but a well balanced wine, with floral and wet rocky smells and well defined citrus flavors, really good acidity. We loved this wine at our blind Gruner tasting earlier this year. Sounds crazy, but I would open this right now with a good burger, one made with grass-fed beef, maybe with some pickles and sweet potato fries...

NV Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant de Jura, (about $18, Prospect Wine Shop, moderate availability). Opened as an apéritif but we just couldn't stop, and we enjoyed this with a simple hangar steak dinner, some broccoli rabe with garlic. This was a really interesting sparkling wine, full of character. Recommended to me by the always reliable Amy Louise Pommier at Prospect Wine Shop, it is 100% Chardonnay. A rich nose of yeast and lemon peel, very mineral. This wine was very focused, incisively mineral and citrus, lots of chalk, almost salty. Something deeper in the middle was missing (or else it would be Champagne, I guess), but the finish was quite nice. It turned out to be better with food than on its own. And this is blood-rich hangar steak we're talking about, not a veal cutlet. There's just something so nice about the piercing acidity of a wine like this against the rich meatiness of a steak. Go ahead, try a sparkling wine with your next steak, and then call me crazy if you dare. Just make sure it's not some insipid and sweet mass marketed sparkler.

And speaking of wines that go well with steak, I love Savennier
ès in the cool weather. There is something so wintery to me about a mature Savennierès - the rich roast nuts, the broad and slightly honeyed minerals, the quinine that lingers after I swallow. With a veal stew or pork roast with fennel and acorn squash, or something like that...YUM. Or, you could go with a young wine, which while less complex maybe, can still have the power to stand up to a skirt or hangar steak.

And I haven't even touched on white Burgundy, although I'm POSITIVE that my
2005 Dureuil-Janthial Rully La Martelle would be great with what I'm about to eat tonight - beef braised in vegetable stock with turnips and carrots, and just a few San Marzano tomatoes, a green salad, a baguette. Not to be, though. I still have a cold and I'm not drinking, so BrooklynLady picked the wine for tonight and she went with a 2001 Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Hmmm, impossible to find a wine in our cellar that is more of an opposite to what I've just been talking about.

So what do you think - am I nuts? Can you get with this a little bit - this white wine and fall food thing? If so, what whites would you suggest pairing with cool weather food.

15 comments:

Jeff said...

I think we're supposed to drink what we like. I find that so many of the foods we've eaten this fall have made me reach for whites from Germany and the Loire Valley. I haven't been disappointed yet!

Marcus said...

I think this has happened to me. I made a Bobby Flay giant steak with special sauce and suddenly decided to open a crisp white.

You're looking for something to cut through the increased fat and starch of the food you're now eating... maybe...

Sometimes if I suspect a cold might be coming on, I'll choose white over red. White is always more tonic.

Either way, best keep doing what your body wants you to. (My body's been telling me the opposite, to have red wine with fish, so it's I've posted the complement to your post.)

Cheers!

Wicked Good Dinner said...

Enjoying your blog - thanks for the great wine tips :-)

Brooklynguy said...

hi jeff - i think i need to see what's up with german wines. such a huge nut to crack though. i've been trying instead to really learn something about a few french regions, and that seems like a happily endless task. thanks for your comments.

i like that marcus, white is more tonic. i think i agree. i read your red wine with salmon or chicken post and i was going to guess pinot wiht the salmon, but somehow that seems to plebeian for you...

hi wicked good - welcome, and glad you're enjoying it. how did you find it, by the way?

Wine Scamp said...

I like richer, creamier foods in the winter, like chowders and stroganoff, so I end up pulling whites with those. My winter whites include white Burgundy, of course, as well as Germany and Alsace.

But cold weather does make me turn to red much more than I normally would.

As an aside, I always thought it was funny when I sold wine in the Caribbean that red wine would outsell white so dramatically in the winter, even though the lows there were in the 50s, at worst...

Joe said...

Hi Neil - I have to think that the Jura I had in August for our anniversary would be a great winter wine, and big enough for heartier meals.

Eddie H. said...

I agree that Gruner Veltliner is a great wine for fall--as you said, it goes great with fall dishes.

My goto fall wine is a nice smoky California Chardonnay. They are quite enjoyable on a chilly day when I do not feel like drinking red.

Anonymous said...

My cold water flat demands white at this time of year and all the way to aprilish when the reds warm up enough for them to be drinkable.

Brooklynguy said...

hi scamps - sold wine in the Caribbean?!? what is THAT all about? can i read about that on your blog? alsace is a place i need to learn more about and drink more wine from.

hey joe - i remember reading about that wine after you drank it. jura - another region in france that i have not explored. i love your notes on that wine. i want to taste a vin jaune...

hi eddie-i know you like oaked chards from cali - not my cup of tea. i'm always open to tasting though. have you ever tried stony hill? that's a cali wine i like a lot.

hey anon - where are you writing from? no heat? sounds adventurous

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't forget to remind BrooklynLady that those Chateauneuf-du-Pape whites are slammin', & perfect pairing with any of those stew-type meals one whips up on these cold winter nights...Perhaps not so much with the braised beef, but certainly with turnips or yams or sweet potato-based dishes...Try a sweet potato or butternut squash soup with a dollop of cream & a dash of nutmeg along with one of those Clairette or Grenache Blanc-based beauties, & you'll see what I mean...

Sean

Brooklynguy said...

hi sean - are you the same anon with the cold water flat, from the earlier comment? thanks for the white rhone suggestion. sounds excellent and i'll have to try that.

RougeAndBlanc said...

I tried the a White Rioja from Lopez de Heredia for Thanksgiving. It is a great winter white.

Brooklynguy said...

nice Andrew - I've had that wine once or twice and like it a lot too.

Sean said...

Hey Brooklynguy,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you--no, I'm not the same Anon. from the coldwater flat. You might be thinking about my Dad, who grew up in a coldwater flat on 7th St. & 3rd Ave. Do they still have those things these days? I'm a bit envious, if so: it seems that the little bit of extra chill would make for a perfect, free wine cellar! Heh...

Sean

Brooklynguy said...

what exactly is a coldwater flat?!?