Food Friendly Wines to Match Winter Cuisine

The Wine Girl

Baby, it’s still cold outside. But despite the gloomy days and colder temperatures, there are plenty of seasonal delights to enjoy. In fact, beautiful root vegetables like beets, parsnips, and celery root are so delicious when roasted with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh pepper, they should not be relegated to mere side dishes. These veggies make gorgeous ingredients for your main course as well. Pairing wine with winter vegetable dishes can be tricky, but there are a few pairings that really sing.

Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy

Explore savory pumpkin dishes like pumpkin ravioli in brown sage butter with a crisp, mineral-driven Pinot Grigio. With this wine, the grapes are grown on steep terraced slopes in Alto Adige, a region nestled within the Italian Alps on the border between Austria and Switzerland. Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio is far more complex than many of its siblings. Dramatic day-night temperature swings in the Alps create bracing acidity and crisp freshness not often seen. The bright notes of lemon, apple, and pear complement the savory, spicy pumpkin flavors. The bright acidity also cuts through the creamy butter sauce.

2015 Las Bas Gewürztraminer, Somontano, Spain

Another great example is creamy butternut squash soup with fresh nutmeg paired with Gewürztraminer. Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountain range in Somontano, the Las Bas vineyards are some of the northernmost in Spain. Rich sweet ginger, white flowers, spice, and lychee notes explode from the glass. This zesty and fragrant wine with it’s tropical notes and spice matches beautifully with the spicy nutmeg and sweet, nutty taste of the butternut squash.

2013 Worthy Chardonnay, Calistoga, Napa Valley, $23.99

Winter is also a terrific time to experiment with roasting and puréeing different root vegetables for complex and comforting flavors. Root vegetables typically pair well with Chardonnay. A purée of celery root with a bit of cream makes a decadent side dish and is a wonderful accompaniment to scallops pan seared in butter. Pair this delightful seasonal dish with an American Chardonnay: 100% Chardonnay from 25-year-old vines featuring 80% French oak, 50% of it new. The remainder is stainless steel aged. Offering aromas of brioche, peach, apple, and pear, with hints of orange, this wine will complement root veggies perfectly.

2015 Cuvee de Penya Viognier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($9.99)

Viognier works well with sweet root vegetables especially carrots and parsnips roasted with a pinch of curry spices. Viognier’s original home is in the Rhône Valley, and its exotic floral and fruity character is the perfect partner for winter cuisine. This Viognier shows lighter fruit notes like tangerine, mango and honeysuckle. A hint of clove and nutmeg comes through on the back end. At only $10 per bottle, this is an incredible value that is sure to elevate your winter veggie roasts.

2011 Sons of Eden Zephyrus Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia ($29.99)

Savory sweet potato dishes are so simple and versatile this time of year. Make it the star of your meal and cook up some sweet potato and black bean quesadillas, or simply roast them with brown butter and rosemary for a delicious side dish. Pair with a Shiraz from Barossa as the wine’s natural sweetness and bold, lush fruit is an ideal complement to the sweetness in the potatoes.This lavish wine has aromas of purple flowers, spice, ripe blackberry, and dark plums on the nose and palate. Big and soft, you’ll love the long, elegant finish on this hedonistic wine.

2013 Toluca Lane Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon ($24.99)

 While most mushrooms are available year-round, many are at their peak in fall and winter. Try pairing an oyster, shiitake, and wild mushroomcrostini with an earthy Pinot Noir. Toluca Lane is a family owned boutique wine operation in Yamhill County, Oregon. The 2013 is a light, elegant, and refined Pinot Noir featuring notes of bright Rainier cherries, and hints of forest floor. The mushrooms will pair beautifully with the polished earthy undertones in the wine.

Let’s not forget the hearty, comforting, and warming meat dishes and slow-cooker stews of the season. These delicious staples are much easier to pair with wine as well. Experiment with fresh, seasonal herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme, all crushed and made into a rub with a pinch of lemon zest and a healthy serving of olive oil. It’s so simple and delicious! Add fresh black peppercorns and bay leaves to the mix for an extra kick. Smother all over a tenderloin steak and partner with a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon for a heavenly pairing.

Get inspired with winter produce at the Eastern Market this coming weekend and treat yourself and your family to a healthy and warming meal paired with a great bottle of wine.

Visit Elyse Genderson at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill at 300 Massachusetts Avenue, NE. For more information, visit

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