White wines to drink in a winter wonderland

6 whites for the cold winter

Photo by Town Hall Brands for Bartier Bros.
Photo by Town Hall Brands for Bartier Bros.

It’s almost beaten into our suB.C.onscious wine brains: drink red wine in winter, whites in the summer. While a big, robust red is perfect for warming your heart on a cold winter’s night (or cold winter’s day, you drunk!), this is as good a time as any to enjoy some white wine.

Before you ask why on Earth you would drink a chilled wine on a chilled day, first off, I’ll say, “What kind of rationale is that?” It’s not like you warm your red wines in winter. You’re a bastard if you do.

After the Christmas holidays, we still go out, visit friends, and eat a variety of foods, despite our efforts to eat healthier in the new year. The cold weather still means we get home later in the day and still order take-out. White wines are often the best choice for popular take-out options (though red wine and pizza still gets my vote), especially with Vietnamese or Thai cuisine, or even good old-fashioned North American style Chinese food. The Germanic varieties such as riesling, and gewürztraminer are the rock stars here.

Personally, I like the civility that comes with drinking a nice white in winter, if nothing else. Having the best wine for the meal is more important than the season.

Tinhorn Creek 2013 Gewürztraminer, B.C.

A really great example of what this grape is doing in the Okanagan. Lychee, mandarin orange, peach, and rose petal aromas on the nose and palate with only the barest hint of sweetness. I love pairing this with ham, Asian cuisine, or poultry of all types, including turkey if you aren’t sick of it yet.

B.C. $17, AB $25, ON $25


Bartier Bros. 2013 Semillon, B.C.

A new grape to my pantheon of holiday wine picks, semillon is relatively uncommon in Canada. Green apple fruits with apricot and a touch of herb and cactus leaf. In the mouth, it's fresh and clean with mineral, herb, and plenty of acids before a velvety finish. I’m calling ham as the best pairing, but I think this would really shine with salmon or turkey sandwiches, too.

B.C. $18, AB $23


JoieFarm 2013 A Noble Blend. B.C.

The only blend in this line up, it’s also a favourite around my house year-round. With plenty of sweetness, the fruits are elevated to new levels of ripeness with plenty of apple, lime, and oranges. A touch of spice and some really nice acids round it out. Drink anytime or with anyone.

B.C. $24, AB $34


CedarCreek 2013 Ehrenfelser, B.C.

Another unusual grape to enjoy this holiday season, ehrenfelser is a cross of riesling and sylvaner. Slightly waxy on the nose with spice, it’s also floral and fruity. A little sweetness (well balanced by acid) is great against all those ripe tropical fruits. I think it will be a stunner on the table, but it should also handle seafood, or desserts that aren’t too sweet.

B.C. $19, MB $22, AB $23


Quails’s Gate 2013 Dry Riesling, B.C.

Riesling isn’t always sweet. Smelling this wine, you’ll pick up mineral notes with lime and apple. Bright acids and a pinch of sweetness come through on the palate, but that acidity will get you salivating for some full-on, rich winter fare such as chicken stews or even some Indian cuisine.

B.C. $17, YK $19, MB $20, AB $23


Kettle Valley 2012 Gewürztraminer, B.C.

Very French in style for gewürztraminer. A lot of restraint; look for citrus fruits, mangoes, grapefruit, and lychee on the nose with plenty of consistency on the palate. Silky smooth in the mouth, it really opens up into a beautiful glass of wine. Matches well with seafood of almost all types or with game birds, even pork.

B.C. $23, AB $25