Traditionally, people have always used Autumn as that precursor to those cold and dreary wintry months. In the most perverse way, it’s a warm up act (no pun intended) for when the big chill settles. So normally around this time, you’d read long monologues about what wines to serve with beef bourginon, Lancashire Hot Pot and Shepherd’s Pie… Hang on though, haven’t we had central heating for the last goodness know’s how many years? Isn’t under floor heating a la mode? Mmm…
Still, even if the home and hearth is all toasty and warm, there is something about the slightly chilly aspect, the red and gold leaves that litter the floor and the abundance of woolly scarfs that forces you to retreat to hale and hearty dishes in the kitchen. Which means, like it or not, you need to adjust your wine preferences from light summer salads to altogether more robust plates over the next month or so.
Now that naturally involves moving from crisp and clean offerings, up to to buttery, no-nonsense white blends that have added character and warmth. Likewise, you’ve got to move from your old lunchtime favourites from the likes of Bibendum, La Gavroche and all the Old World Cabernet that accompanied those marques, to more reserved and smarter options – such as smashing our plates on the floor and waiting to see who picks them up!
However, despite the bad press and appalling publicity that will inevitably come from such antics, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some great options for cracking a bottle open in Hyde or Grand Central Park if the chill in the air; after all, the car blankets are there, so are a few spare duvets, and you can always bum a ciggie off a tramp.
Even better, however, is sitting in the comfortable environs of a restaurant and enjoying the best they have to offer with their winter menu. So here goes. Our top five picks for keeping winter at bay but enjoying the splendid season that our friends over the Pond so quaintly call The Fall.
- Diez Siglos Verdejo, Rueda 2014, Spain - £20, 68 and Boston, Greek Street, London. Awesome Spanish white that is crisp and dry but also has enough body to keep most dishes in check, even those with the likes of Chorizo or Spanish sausage in their make-up. Either way this is a delicious and robust white.
- El Circo, ‘Equilibrista’ Carignan, Aragon, Spain 2013 - £20, 10 Greek Street, London. You really can’t go wrong with well made Carignan. And this is bloody well made. All those dark, deep plummy and blackcurrant flavours combine with a lovely vanilla oak to make this a pretty sensational white.
- AA Badenhorst Family Red, 2011, South Africa - £64 The Ivy Restaurant, London. Think of the largest Rugby player you’ve ever encountered. Stick a beard on him and tell him he’s individual. That sums this red up. Wonderful, powerful, violent, exasperating and delicious. You HAVE to try this.
- Carignan, Domaine Galiniere, Languedoc, France 2012 - £29.00 The Dean Street Town House. Again Carignan, which is so often blended or hidden in it’s neighbouring vinyards, shows its true nature. Blackberries, bilberries, mulbeffires and a wonderfully spicy kick to the finish.
- Dolcetto D’Alba GD Vajra 2013 - £43.00, Polpo, Soho. Dolcettio. Almost can’t go wrong with this grape variety. Year in year out it has never failed to please, so get you’re job lot in now so that there is no confusion.