In Minnesota, and I would guess in most of the frozen north, we tend to drink red wine in winter. But there’s a large subset of wine drinkers who have no use for red at any time of the year. While planning your holiday festivities, there are many reasons to include whites as part of the evening. Some people only drink white or get headaches from red. Guests may not want to stain their pearly white teeth or dress. Or maybe you don’t want red wine in your all-white living room. So don’t forget about great white wines—or your friends who want to drink them—during the months of the year when the branches are bare. Here are some ideas for the chilly season.
This month’s selections are from The Wine Thief, 1787 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-9463
Ventisquero Queulat Gran Reserva 2007 (Casablanca Valley, Chile), $15.99
Sauvignon blanc. When you think of sauvignon blanc, Chile isn’t the first place that comes to mind, but this one is worth a try. It’s citrusy (more orange than lemon) and clean, with a fruity nose with hints of mint and basil. The wine is more full-bodied than I would have guessed and will pair up beautifully with salmon or a scallop dish.
Birgit Eichinger 2006 (Kamptal, Austria), $19.99
Roter veltliner. I am really not trying to drive you nuts with new grape names—this one was new to me as well. It was recommended by the merchant and was a nice surprise. The grape is gruner veltliner’s cousin, with apple and peach flavors, and is light and easy to drink without food. Reisling fans should like it.
Chateau L’ermitage 2007 “White Rhone” (Rhone Valley, France), $9.99
Roussanne/grenache blanc/viognier. If you’re looking for a substitute for chardonnay for the winter, I’ve found it. Affordable, rich, and delicious, this wine has a balanced attack— lots of good lemony acid, fruit notes (peach and pear), and a rich body. This will go great with chicken or white fish. Did I mention it was affordable?
Zaccagnini Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi 2006 (Marche, Italy), $15.99
Verdicchio. It doesn’t have the nose you’d expect from a pale-yellow white wine, and it smells like fresh baked bread. It’s also lively and elegant with dry crisp acids and an almost earthy spice at the end. All I could think of while I drank this one was how I wanted to try it with mussels in a garlic-butter-and-white-wine sauce.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com.