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Winter & Wine: The Best Wine Pairings & Storage Advice

The nights are getting longer, days are growing colder and Christmas is only a few weeks away; this time of year lends itself to hearty casseroles and a glass of good quality red. We’ve teamed up with Mr Wheeler Wine in Colchester to offer some suggestions on pairing wine with winter food.

A classic Sunday roast is hard to beat, especially at this time of year. If you have a particularly special wine that you’ve been saving you’ll be pleased to hear that a simple roast meat is often the best accompaniment. Mature Claret is best served with roast beef; a top quality Burgundy is very good with roast chicken whilst lamb and Rioja are a lovely combination. Straightforward pairings like this result in a stunning taste that allows the full flavour of the wine to come through.

When it comes to dining day-to-day, spicy dishes are a firm favourite in the winter months, yet people rarely think to match good quality wine to spicier dishes. Whilst spicy food can sometimes overpower the more delicately flavoured wines youthful, fruity, wines will hold their own. If you’re using oriental spices to cook Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese dishes for example, a vibrant white wine works best, complementing the ginger and citrus flavours of the dishes. If you’re more into Indian cooking then a bold, flavoursome red really enhances the Indian spices.

When it comes to dessert wines, matching these to the appropriate pudding can be a difficult task. Fruity desserts work well with a Muscat while chocolate desserts are best with a sweet red. When choosing a wine to accompany a dessert it is important to ensure the wine is sweeter than the dessert, otherwise the acidity of the wine will be over pronounced by your palette after the sweet hit of the pudding.

With some perfect pairings established it’s important to make sure that you store your wine collection correctly to ensure the flavours remain intact. There are four potential dangers to your wine; temperature, light, vibration and humidity – ideally your wine storage will combat all of these. Wine is best kept at between 10-20 degrees celsius, however the temperature does not have to be entirely consistent; a gradual temperature change between seasons can actually benefit the wine. A Sub-Zero or Miele wine cooler will have multiple sections, each with its own temperature setting, allowing you to keep, red, white, rose and sparkling at their optimum temperatures, all in the same unit.

The second enemy of wine is lighting. Ultra violet rays from natural sunlight can penetrate the glass bottle and affect the wine, for example champagne will undergo a chemical change if exposed to prolonged sunlight. As well as the long term effects on the wine itself, the label and packaging will be damaged if in direct sunlight. In order to avoid this problem it is important that your wine storage is in a dark space or wine cellar. Alternatively if you choose to install a Sub-Zero wine fridge the glass is argon filled, UV-resistant and bronze-tinted in order to protect the bottles within.

Thirdly, vibration of the wine bottles should be avoided where possible. Depending on how serious your wine collection is, there is evidence to show that the vibrations of the compressor in a fridge could damage the more delicate wines amongst your collection. All Sub-Zero wine chillers are fitted with quiet compressors, which eliminate this potentially dangerous low level vibration.

Humidity is the final factor to consider when looking at wine storage. Getting the humidity levels right is a balancing act; if there is too little humidity the cork can dry out causing the wine to oxidise. However if you expose wine bottles to too much humidity this can damage the packaging and labels having a detrimental effect not only on the aesthetics of the bottle but also the resale value. Storing wine bottles horizontally will prevent the cork from drying out and you should be able to control the external humidity level in a good quality wine chiller or cellar.

If you’re looking for some tips on how to pair your Christmas dinner with the right wines keep an eye on the Davonport blog throughout December for more expert advice from Mr Wheeler Wine. | 01206 713560

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