Pairing Wine with Winter Meals

Winter is a time for hearty, flavorful, rich meals. When the colder months roll around, I instantly want to pull out my crock pot and my Pinterest board becomes full of soups and stews. I also always gravitate toward bolder and full-bodied reds because they feel warm and homey. I was curious as to what wines paired with some popular winter dishes, so I did a bit of research. Here is what I found for three of my favorite meals...

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

This is my go-to lunch during the cooler months, and nothing is more of a classic to me than this pairing. Sometimes I jazz it up with a fancy cheese, herbs, and a good crusty bread, but other times it's as simple as some cheddar between two slices of wheat bread. Anyway, there was definitely a consensus when it came to what wine would pair well with this meal. The vast majority of opinions I read were that a weightier white such as a Chardonnay or Chablis (which is an un-oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy, France) would pair well. The high acidity of these wines would pair well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the cheese. Full-bodied whites pair well with cheeses such as cheddar, swiss, and havarti. Does your tomato soup have basil in it? Have no fear! That'll go great with Chardonnay as well. 

Beef Chili

For our household, chili is a staple during winter. It's easy to make, relatively healthy, and full of flavor. In the interest of full disclosure, I am by no means an expert at wine and food pairing. I tend to just drink what I want and go with it, so when I started to do some looking around in my books and online, I was surprised to find that no one is really in agreement on a pairing other than that beer is probably the best choice. While I totally can see how that would be, I tend to want a good wine, so I kept perusing until I found some kind of answer. The two things that was agreed upon was that the wine should have low tannin and be fruit forward because of the heat and spice of the chili. Grenache seemed to be the most popular choice, while Zinfandel was a solid second choice.

Chicken Pot Pie 

Who doesn't love chicken pot pie?! With its flaky crust, hearty vegetables, and creamy filling, it is the definition of comfort food. Most opinions I found suggested a white, especially one that is crisp and clean. With the creaminess of the pot pie, you want something balanced. A Chardonnay would be a great choice, but shy away from the big, buttery, super creamy Chardonnays. They will fight with the cream in the pot pie. Instead, I'd choose a Chablis again. They are typically fresh with a good amount of fruitiness. The minerality that is commonplace with Chablis will be a good contrast to the cream.

What is the moral of this story for me? Don't just rely on reds! Old habits will most likely die hard, but I found it very interesting that Chablis was a very popular choice for winter foods. I will have pick up a couple of bottles so I can see exactly what everyone is raving about!