Dreaming of a White Christmas

December 9, 2014

 A celebrated British wine merchant Harry Waugh reportedly once said, "The first duty of a wine is to be red." Rubbish, I say. White wines deliver refreshment in a way that reds seldom can, and they arrive in a mind-boggling array of hues, aromas, flavours, sweetness levels, textures-even bottle shapes. More transparent in every way, they show nuance, terroir, and the very art of winemaking with naked clarity.

Winter is coming, of course, but white wine is entirely suitable at this time of year if it fulfills certain criteria: the richness to match weighty cold-weather dishes (think Alsatian baeckeoffe, pine-mushroom risotto, leek and potato soup), the complexity of savoury botanical flavours rather than juicy fruit alone, and the spicy warmth of generous alcohol. Earth tones, layers of rich texture from lees, and roasted-nut flavours all serve to warm from within.

If riesling and sauvignon blanc are quintessential summertime wines, winter belongs to fleshy Rhône grapes like marsanne, roussanne, and viognier, as well as sumptuous oaked chardonnay, opulent gewürztraminer, and honeyed chenin blanc. Cold-weather wine styles can be dry to barely off-dry, and tend to have softer acidity and plush texture; they belong in a wide-bowled glass with a fire nearby

Best Cellar

Emily Walker, wine director for YEW Seafood + Bar and the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver (791 W. Georgia St., 604-692-4939) is Okanagan-born, so she feels a special affinity for the Trebella, declaring that it offers "a perfect mix of aromatics, acidity, and mouth feel to harmonize with rich shellfish dishes such as Dungeness crab ravioli in a light cream or butter sauce."

 

White Magic

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