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Warming Winter Whites

Dark, cold winter evenings are already upon us and with Christmas fast approaching, does that mean that white wine must be ditched in favour of glasses of red for sipping by the fire? Absolutely not - here is my guide to the perfect warming winter whites.

First up is one of my favourites: Viognier. A sensuous and heady wine originating in the Rhône Valley in France. Although it can be found all around the world, some of the best examples are produced as single varietals in the Northern Rhône region of Condrieu. Often referred to as a white wine for red wine drinkers, Viognier is full-bodied wine with high alcohol, low acidity and an oily texture which gives the wine a full and rounded mouthfeel. Its flavour profile is highly aromatic, displaying notes of peach, apricot, tangerine and white flowers such as honeysuckle and jasmine.

Although Rioja is famous for its incredible red wines, white Rioja (or Rioja Blanca) accounts for around 10% of the total production in the region and is another magnificent white wine to drink in winter. Produced using a blend of up to six different indigenous white grape varieties, the Viura grape is always dominant and by law must make up at least 51% of the blend. Also known as Macabeo in other areas of Spain, this neutral tasting grape variety, provides the perfect blank canvas for winemakers to enhance the flavours in the the wine using a variety of techniques including oak ageing. Expect to discover a warming and full-bodied wine boasting flavours of tropical fruits and nuts.

Chardonnay is one of the world's most popular grapes as it is so versatile and lends itself perfectly to a plethora of different wine styles, depending on the choices made by the winemaker. For a warming winter white, I would choose a Chardonnay from a warmer climate such as Napa in California or South Africa. These full-bodied wines display rich notes of mango and ripe peach with a creamy and buttery mouthfeel. Chardonnays like these are also excellent food pairing wines and match perfectly with comforting food such as roast chicken, macaroni cheese and risotto.

Cheers to winter whites!

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