Just because the evenings are turning crisp doesn’t mean your wine can’t follow suit. While lighter-bodied red wines start to take center stage this time of year and steer us toward the big reds that can carry us through stew and casserole season, there is a compelling case to be made for drinking white wine all year long, if that’s your preference.
Many grapes, regions, and winemaking techniques can produce weightier whites that maintain a crisp edge, yet still can stand up to the richer dishes that cold weather inspires. To that end, we asked 15 sommeliers: What’s your go-to cold weather white wine?
La Raia Gavi
Gaja ‘Idda’ Carricante
Yves Cuilleron Condrieu
Paolo Bea ‘Santa Chiara’
Ver Sacrum ‘Geisha de Jade’ Marsanne/Roussane blend
Albert Ponnelle Santenay Blanc
Paul Lato ‘Boogie Nights’ Malvasia Bianca
Devison Vitners Hunters Pride Sémillon
Domaine de l’Horizon Blanc
Borgogno ‘Derthona’ Timorasso
Laurent-Perrier Grande Siècle No. 26
Gran Moraine Willamette Valley Chardonnay
Orixe Sotelo Albor Godello Blend
Clare Valley Riesling
“Winter’s all about cozy, hearty recipes, and one of my absolute favorites as a big Italian foodie is homemade ravioli — mainly tortelli di zucca. I love pairing them with Gavi, which comes from the same region. Made from the Cortese grape, its vibrant acidity cuts through the slight sweetness of the pumpkin and the brown butter sauce wonderfully. I’ve developed a particular fondness for La Raia, a biodynamic producer that is located in the heart of the Gavi hills. On the nose, the aroma is broad and concentrated, accompanied by a rich mouthfeel [that’s] warm and harmonic with persistent acidity. A prolonged period of sur lie aging brings a different dimension with incredible complexity and a long-living potential to the wine.” —John Camacho Vidal, founder, Wine Stories NY, New York City
“While not necessarily considered a cold-weather white, ‘Idda,’ the lightly oaked Sicilian Carricante from Gaja, is all I need to warm me up in the cooler winter months. Fresh and citrus-forward, there is a slight toast and creaminess from their oak usage and partial malolactic fermentation that adds waves of delectable texture. Perfect for a not-too-heavy winter white that has the unique capacity to be warming as well as refreshing.” —Julie Gray, general manager, Field & Main Restaurant, Marshall, Va.
“My go-to glass of a white wine in winter times is a Bordeaux Blanc. These often are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Sémillon brings in the rich texture and mouthfeel that gives the wine its weight. Lees and barrel aging adds complexity to these wines, too. Both Sémillon and Muscadelle temper the high-acid zippiness of the Sauvignon Blanc and provide a roundness to the wine that helps it to pair with a wider selection of food such as roasted chicken with lemon butter sauce or a radicchio salad with pecans and green apples, or with a warm bowl of butternut squash soup.” —Arindam Basu, co-owner, A&R Wine Services, wine sales associate, Total Wine & More, Claymont, Del.
“I love Condrieu, especially from Yves Cuilleron, for the winter months. This wine is renowned for its rich texture and complex flavors that perfectly complement the cold season. Made from Viognier, the quintessential tasting notes of Condrieu include tangerine, Marcona almond, and citrus. The presence of Marcona almond gives it a creamy and nutty character that pairs wonderfully with winter dishes. This makes the wine ideal for aging; the nutty notes become more profound as the wine ages. Condrieu’s overall richness and depth make it a great companion for hearty winter meals and cozy evenings by the fireplace. Its full-bodied nature and complex flavor profile make it a wine to savor. It is a perfect choice to elevate your winter wine experience.” —Corey Hayes, sommelier and general manager, Gala & Muse Bar, Aventura, Fla.
“Paolo Bea Santa Chiara will be my white wine for the fall-winter season. It’s a blend of Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Garganega made in Umbria. It’s a skin-contact, no-sulfur-added wine rich in flavor and minerals. It has wild, floral aromas and warm spices on the nose, a dash of white pepper, and elegant tannins with beautiful acidity. I think it would be nice to pair this medium-body wine with a rich winter dish because the minerality can give a punch to a plate such as polenta with Gorgonzola sauce and porcini mushrooms.” —Riccardo Mauro, beverage director, Antica Pesa, Brooklyn
“Who says white wine can’t be drunk in the winter? Personally, I love a great Rhône white blend that is Marsanne- and Roussane-driven. These two varietals coupled together offer a very appealing floral quality and really refreshing acidity. The texture is a little richer than other white wines as well, which I think does well with the cooler weather and some of those heartier braised dishes. In Argentina, Ver Sacrum makes an amazing Rhône-style blend called Geisha de Jade that has everything you want out of these two varietals but also some of the classic Uco Valley minerality.” —Alex Cuper, wine director and general manager, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, Chicago
“As temperatures finally withdraw from sweltering, I’m sticking with a region that carries me through every solstice and equinox. Santenay is known for some of the most exquisite reds in the world. So, why not give one of their blancs a go as well? Albert Ponnelle’s Santenay Blanc is simply perfect to pair with the first lighting of the fireplace. It’s a 100 percent Chardonnay that harmonizes with clean notes of minerality, a bouquet of white flowers on the nose, and a beautifully rounded body that caresses you with notes of almond. This is the glass you want to wait for when the roasted butternut squash is taken out of the oven. Dare I say keep this wine close by all the way through the holiday season?” —Jerry Chandler, wine buyer, The Bohemian Wine Bar, columnist, JK Wine, Charlotte, N.C.
“When the temperature drops and you feel a chill in your bones, reach for some liquid warmth known as Paul Lato Boogie Nights.’ It’s made from Malvasia Bianca, an ancient grape that calls many regions throughout the Mediterranean and beyond home. Boogie Nights features lovely spiced orange blossom and honeysuckle aromas with luscious peach, apricot stone fruits, and a warming, honeyed texture. Lime and tangerine citrus notes provide ample freshness, making this wine an indestructible pairing choice for any lavish holiday gathering. Paul Lato captures the generous spirit of the grape and his wine wraps around you like a warm hug on a crisp winter evening. Sourced from the organically farmed Larner Vineyard in Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley, this wine is complex enough to pair with a wide range of winter recipes, from butternut squash soup, cheesy mac and cheese, and velvety parmesan polenta with roasted winter veggies.” —Christopher Costales, food & beverage Director, Pauma Valley Country Club, Pauma Valley, Calif.
“I love Sémillon! It’s a super-versatile wine that can be zesty and citrus-forward to a richer or fuller style that has body without being a malo bomb. In particular, the Devison Vitners Hunters Pride is gorgeous: skin contact Sémillon from Walla Walla that has nuance and gorgeous tension, and shows fun balance. It’s perfect for cool evenings, for pairing with a plethora of foods, and for exploring a lesser-known style or varietal. It’s a lively wine that still gives a generous hug as the temps drop, while being reminiscent of holiday desserts I’ve come to love.” —Leo Braddock, winemaker and owner, Quarky Wines, Walla Walla, Wash.
“I like Domaine de l’Horizon Blanc, produced in France’s Cotes Catalanes IGP. You don’t see a lot of wines from these regions, in part because the land doesn’t lend itself to high yields. It’s a wine that doesn’t know the geopolitical boundaries of France and Spain and seems to marry some of the finest qualities from each region. The principal grapes are Macabeu and Grenache Blanc. It has round fruit notes from the region’s warm weather, yet still shows beautiful acidity. The wine is biodynamic and I think the spontaneous fermentations make the end result feel broad and round, yet quite alive. It’s something very welcoming on a cold winter day, and it doesn’t hurt that it can stand up to hearty winter dishes from coq au vin to bean stews.” —David Weitzenhoffer, Owner, Community Wine & Spirits, NYC
“Borgogno Derthona Timorasso from Colli Tortonesi Timorasso DOC, a very unique white wine from Piedmont, Italy. The grape is almost extinct, and very few hectares of this wine exist. It is lower-yielding, so after phylloxera ravaged the area, more prolific varieties were planted, which is why we see so little of it. It’s rich and spicy, yet has that classic Italian white backbone with a little bitter almond at the edges. It’s much weightier than other Italian whites, though, which makes it a perfect pairing for heartier winter dishes. The bitter edge is your friend with the richer pairings. It’s quite complex and long-lived.” —Julie M. Dalton, MS, CWE, wine director & chef sommelier, Stella’s Wine Bar at The Post Oak Hotel, Houston
“I’ve never been a ‘Champagne is only for special occasions’ person, but as we come into a season of special occasions and holidays, I find myself drinking even more Champagne than normal. Laurent-Perrier Grande Siècle Iteration No. 26 is a bottle that fits a festive mood, a great meal, or reconnecting with visiting family — hopefully all three! I prefer a richer style of Champagne, and the No. 26 delivers with a combination of three great vintages, eight different grand crus, and 10 years aging on the lees before disgorgement.” —Jon Leopold, wine director, The Alinea Group, Chicago
“I’m the odd one who, left to my own devices, reaches for white wine regardless of the weather. When the temps go down and the dishes get richer, I’m way more likely to dip into a bit more textured white. And this winter, I’m going to be drinking a whole lot of Gran Moraine Chardonnay. Perfect to cut through a pozole or pork chop, or to dazzle you alongside pan-seared scallops or lemon-buttered lobster, this wine will work with so many dishes that you’ll be pressed to find one it does not enhance.” —Matthew Kaner, owner, Will Travel For Wine Consulting, Los Angeles
“I have been loving the Albor by Orixe Sotelo. It’s a blend of Albariño and Godello, and has all this phenomenal texture and depth but leans more towards ginger and jasmine notes.” —Terra Jane Albee, owner, Ownroot Collective, Napa, Calif.
“My unequivocal go-to is a Clare Valley Riesling with a few years of age on it. This Australian gem effortlessly embodies a blend of vivacity and maturity that is rare to find in the wine world, and it’s a charismatic match for a myriad of dishes we often associate with winter. These are wines that exude aromatic brightness, balanced acidity, and a delightful spectrum of flavors that harmoniously complement the season’s festive, hearty meals and cozy atmosphere.” —Jim Silver, managing director, New Frontier Wine Co., Napa, Calif.
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