Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 20, 2022
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Wines for winter

Tis the season for winter warmers. In the wine context, they are the bottled equivalent of a hearty bowl of soup, with the comforting ability to both warm the gullet and nourish the soul on particularly blustery days. Stylistically speaking, they're the opposite of the patio sipper — those bottles will remain in hibernation well into the new year.

The ideal winter warmer is bold upfront, with assertive aromas right out of the glass. Ripe berry and spice are nice, not to mention they add an air of festiveness. That said, where many potentially rewarding winter warmers fall flat is mid-taste. Rich fruit needs to be coupled with solid structure. But too often “fruit forward” is synonymous with zero backbone, and after a rush of ripe fruit you’re left without complementary acidity — hitting the palate like a wet wool blanket.

Comfort wine requires a comforting finish. After providing a harmonious blend of elegant richness, the best winter warmers saunter through the finish, offering more smoothness than bite and lingering just long enough for the toes to curl.

On a final note, it’s true that there tends to be a colour bias when it comes to winter warmers. Red wines find favour over white, though there’s no reason to discount uncorking a luxurious Chardonnay or lush white Rhône during months with an “R.” But typically it’s the Malbecs, Merlots, Primitivos, and Petite Sirahs that get the winter warming call.

Or Shiraz, like the juicy St. Hallett 2008 Faith Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Gregarious aromas of raspberry and blackberry immediately jump out of the glass, followed by mocha and toasty oak in this plush, smooth red that ends with a lick of pepper spice and a lingering tartness. It’s big, bold, gut warming and perfect for pairing with a lamb stew or other substantial one-pot meal.

St. Hallett 2008 Faith Shiraz is available across Canada, from $16.95 to $22.50 a bottle.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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