Ideal Wines to Serve This Winter

Winter is the perfect season to stay in and enjoy wine. Here’s what Ideal Wine Company is reaching for when the temperatures drop.

Ideal wine company winter wines
Here are our ideal wines to serve this winter.

Nebbiolo – pleasant with surprising form and grip

Nebbiolo is a deceiving wine. While its appearance is pale and pleasant, it is often compared to a Pinot Noir, it has many unexpected qualities. With a high acidity and grippy tannins, which give the wine form and grip, you won’t forget this red quickly. Showcasing complex rose, cherry and leather flavours, this complex wine will keep you satisfied. It pairs well with winter squash, mushrooms, truffles and charcuterie, making a perfect accompaniment to plenty of winter foods.

Sangiovese – earthy and rustic

A high-acid and high-tannin Italian wine is a must have for this colder and darker season. A traditional Sangiovese is the perfect wine to enjoy with all kinds of winter foods, including roasted winter vegetables and hard cheeses. Its earthy and rustic notes bring smoky overtones to the glass. As well, its complex nose is perfect for sitting and sniffing as you relax.

Shiraz – rugged and fruity

When it comes to winter, we all enjoy something a bit more hearty and powerful. A Shiraz is the perfect answer to those needs. Described as big and brooding, this red is an ideal warmer. It is known for its powerful black fruit flavours and savoury undertones. It has a high ABV (coming in at around 14-15%) but if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? It’s not for the faint of heart, but is a delicious choice for when it’s cold outside.

Cabernet Sauvignon – an undeniable classic

Cabernet Sauvignon is such a classic, it’s almost seen as a cliché this time of year. This speaks to the popularity of the wine this time of year. Undoubtedly a favourite of many, this wine is a layered and complex option. Pairing well with a seasonal roast and red meat, this fruity red is a staple of the season for good reason. Try an Old World variety for a surprisingly subtle option.

Chardonnay – rich and buttery

An oaked Chardonnay works well with the hearty food of the season. It’s lightness cuts through the richer fare and provides a palate cleanser between bites. This works particularly well with turkey, sea bass and gruyere cheese. Rich and buttery, this full-bodied white has dominant flavours of vanilla, butter and caramel, with a touch of citrus. Reminiscent of other holiday favourites, such as eggnog and hot buttered rum, a Chardonnay will pair wonderfully with your Christmas feast.

Champagne – light and refreshing

To add to a thoroughly festive season, Champagne brings a party atmosphere. It is light and versatile, providing a refreshing quality that is often overlooked. When it comes to winter food, it pairs well with so many favourites, from Christmas ham and bacon to cheeses and nuts. Whether you want to enjoy this at a party or celebrating at home, Champagne provides the perfect uplift to cure any winter blues. Try on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve to properly celebrate the occasions!

With all the wines this time of year, it’s important to find one suited to your needs. A bold red is always a popular winter warmer, while a refreshing white provides a welcome respite from heavy foods and drinks this time of year. With many of us spending more time indoors due to the cold weather, what better way to do it than with a glass of wine?

Matching Your Christmas Starter to Your Wine

Christmas dinner is undoubtedly one of the most important meals of the year. While you may have decided what wine to serve alongside your classic turkey dinner, starters offer more variety and therefore more trouble. With so many options to choose from, it can be a bit daunting to find a wine to match. At Ideal Wine Company, we’ve compiled a list of perfect starter and wine combinations that’ll earn their place at the Christmas table.

Ideal Wine Company Christmas starters and wine
Here’s how to match your Christmas starter to your wine.

Smoked salmon and Riesling

A classic choice for a Christmas starter, this option pairs well with a light crisp white wine. Try pairing with a dry Riesling. Its vivid green apple flavour works especially well with the fish. The sweetness of a Riesling highlights the smoky taste. Acting as a palate cleanser between bites, the natural acidity of the wine counterbalances the fat content of the fish. A good tip to remember when buying a Riesling for smoked salmon is to avoid sweeter or medium dry varieties. The smoky flavour can overwhelm these options, while a dry Riesling softens and rounds these flavours perfectly.

Roasted pumpkin soup and Chardonnay

A hearty soup is a real crowd-pleasing favourite. Taking the flavours of the season, this creamy starter offers strong and rich flavours. With pumpkin soup, try offsetting this velvety starter with an oak-aged Chardonnay. A medium-bodied option should provide a bright acidity to contrast the soup. The layered light fruit and toast character of the wine provides a refreshing note. This stops the creaminess of the soup from becoming overwhelming, without overpowering it. A perfect pairing for a festive feast.

Grand Marnier paté and rosé

Featuring pork, duck and chicken liver and finished with an orange liqueur and orange slices, this paté packs a lot of flavour. With so much going on, it can be difficult to pair this wine with one specific wine. For this reason, we suggest going with an option that combines elements to fit the variety of flavours. We recommend trying this paté with a rosé wine. Look for a medium bodied variety that has the refreshing texture of a white wine, while also bringing a somewhat deep flavour that is more typically found in a red. This hybrid wine perfectly matches the rustic and hearty offering of paté.

Beef carpaccio and champagne

At Christmas, don’t be afraid to try something a bit different for your starter. A fresh tasting salad made from beef carpaccio is a perfect solution if you’re looking to make a change. With its slightly salty taste and leafy greens, this is a light option. For this reason, it’s best not to choose too strong a wine. Try a Champagne or similar sparkling wine, as these pair surprisingly well with raw beef. Its natural sweetness perfectly brings the entire dish together. What is Christmas without a glass of Champagne?

There are plenty of starters you can bring to your table this Christmas, with an endless variety of wines to pair them with. We recommend choosing lighter options for the first course, to bring a subtlety to a traditional rich meal.

How to Perfect your Mulled Wine

You know Christmas is close when you’re enjoying a warming glass of hot, fragrant mulled wine. The traditional festive beverage, usually made with red wine together with various mulling spices and raisins, can be served hot or warm. With its heady aromas of sweetness and spice, this fruity drink is synonymous with Christmas. While it is a treat that many can’t wait to enjoy, it can be difficult to perfect the right balance of flavours being a struggle for many. At Ideal Wine Company, we’ve gathered our top tips to help you make sure your mulled wine is a winner this winter.

Ideal Wine Company Mulled Wine
Here are our top tips for perfecting your mulled wine.

How do I make mulled wine?

Start with a classic recipe – there are hundreds available free online – and they’re easy to follow. While you’re looking make a note of the spices used in them. The more traditional mulling spices are cinnamon, star anise, cloves and nutmeg. But others also include allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, vanilla or ginger.

What wine should I use?

One of the most common questions for how to make mulled wine is what type of wine you should use. While there are many varieties that can work, we know that it is best to look for certain characteristics. The ideal reds to use are young, bright, fruity and unoaked. These will create a good base to build on, while still bringing a rich taste. We recommend using very fruit driven wines, as these tend to make the best mulled wines. Try using an Italian red, a Southern French or New World Merlot. A Shiraz would also be a wonderful choice.

It is also worth noting that quality is important. Always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking. However, it may be best to avoid anything too expensive, as the spices will overpower the subtlety of the wine and that would be a waste.

What flavourings should I use?

After you’ve chosen your wine, add sugar or honey to sweeten it, but be careful not to use too much as overly sweet wine can become overwhelming quickly. Then you add your spices to give it festive flavour. These should include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise and ginger. Make sure you’re careful when you put in the spices – a little at a time so that it isn’t too strong – you can’t take it back out again. Try gathering the spices in a muslin cloth to avoid small floating spices in your drink.

In addition to these classic flavours, try adding a spirit to compliment the flavours. You could add sloe gin, Cointreau or Grand Marnier for added kick.

How do I mull wine?

When you’ve added your spices, it’s now time to mull your wine. The time spent on the heat is very important. You need to infuse the wine long enough for the spices to take on the flavour, but must be careful not to boil it. This will bring out the natural bitterness of the wine that will overwhelm the entire drink. By lightly simmering it, you will emphasise the wine’s fruitiness, perfectly rounding out the flavours. We recommend serving your mulled wine comfortably warm.

Mulled wine is the perfect comforting choice for a cold December. Nothing says winter like a steaming mug or glass of festive mulled wine.

Fireside Red Wines to Try this Winter

The festive season is nearly upon us, the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass or two by the fireside. Here at Ideal Wine Company, we have our perfect picks for you to enjoy with family and friends.

With fireside wines, we’re always drawn to big earthy powerful reds. The cold weather is naturally paired with a robust red, with the body and structure to compete with hearty food. Fruitiness, weight and richness help to provide much-needed warmth.

Ideal Wine Company festive red wine
Here are some of the best fireside red wines to try this winter.

Amarone – bright and juicy

An iconic Italian wine, this typically dry red is made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina. The blend is fermented then refermented, giving the wine rich and complex flavours. Concentrated redcurrant and cherry flavours can be detected. The brightness of these fruits pairs well with the subtle notes of clove, cocoa and spiced vanilla. This provides a structured taste, with juicy tannins providing a satisfying finish.

Ribera del Duero – smooth and luscious

This full-bodied red offers a real flavour of the Spanish countryside. The oak ageing adds notes of vanilla to the wine’s natural blackberry and herbal flavours. Its smooth and luscious structure provides a long finish. This wine is perfect for firesides or with a hearty casserole, ideal for the colder weather.

Syrah – complex and fruity

Providing plenty of character, intensity and complexity, this variety produces an inky depth of flavour. By nature, it is a big red. Its strong fruit flavours bring the rich and sturdy structure a delicious warmth. Try pairing this wine with a meat dish or even a mince pie, as the juicy fruit provides the perfect counterpoint to heavily spiced dishes. The acidity, tannins and richness create a mid-palate complexity that will be well-received by all your guests.

Bordeaux – fragrant and ripe

A great and classic choice for the festive season. This wine is a fine accompaniment to festive meat, with its fragrant and ripe taste. With a great balance and a velvet finish, it offers notes of chocolate, black cherry, spice and vanilla. An ideal combination for winter’s spiced treats.

Carignan – warm and intense

Originating from southern France, this wine is famous for its robust and intense flavour. This blend is perfectly balanced with concentrated aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, plums and brambles from the Grenache. A warm clove spice creates a rustic and smoky nuance. The full-bodied fruitiness, aroma and tannic structure create a warming wine choice. This wine is a perfect match for a charcuterie or cheese platter, making it the perfect choice to try for a festive party.

Carmenère – a subtle spiciness

This medium-bodied French wine is often noted for its smoky, spicy and earthy aromas. Its berry and mocha notes provide a richness that is rounded off with a subtle blend of spices. Working well with hearty dishes such as casseroles and chilli, this wine is the perfect winter warmer.

The Perfect Wines to Pair with Your Seafood

Many wine lovers enjoy a glass of wine with their fish dish. The common pairing of white wine and fish is thought to bring balance and supply a palate cleanser between each delicate bite. While many of us think we should avoid red wines and stick to a light and acidic wine with fish. Ideal Wine Company is here to make pairing wine with your fish simple.

Ideal Wine Company seafood and wine
What are the perfect wines to pair with your seafood?

A guide to fish pairing

Fin fish can be categorised into four major groups, by texture and flavour. While there is a general rule that white wine pairs well with most fish, certain white wines work better for each category.

  1. A lean and flaky fish – usually defined by its mild flavour and thin white fillets. Seabass and haddock are key examples of this type of fish. To pair with this, a zesty and refreshing white wine is best to balance the delicate fish flavour. Try Chardonnay or Vermentino as a standard for this variety.
  2. A medium textured fish – firmer and thicker but still flaky, such as trout and red snapper. For this group, try a medium-bodied white with high aromatics. Good examples of this include a Semillon or a dry Riesling.
  3. Meaty fish – firm and with a steak-like texture. This category of fish includes salmon and swordfish and pairs best with a rich white with lots of flavour. Red and rose wines also provide a nice alternative. A white Pinot Noir or an oaked Chardonnay is a good starting point for meaty fishes.
  4. Strong flavoured fish – characterized by their salty taste, these fish are unmistakable. Including anchovies, sardines and mackerel, this strong fish pairs with strong, yet complimentary, wines. Try a Pinot Noir, to match the bold flavours, or Champagne, to bring a fresh note that will cleanse the palate.

Dishes to try

  • Salmon and Pinot Noir:

This meaty fish is adaptable, suiting white, red and rose varieties. Try a Pinot Noir, as the smoothness of the wine perfectly match the earthy flavours of the fish. We recommend that you look for a variety of Pinot Noir that has low tannins as this will compliment but not overpower the salmon.

  • Halibut and Gewürztraminer:

Halibut is mild flavoured with a firm but flaky texture, allowing it to be one of the most versatile and popular fishes available. This allows it to pair well with a wide range of ingredients and wines. Gewürztraminer is slightly sweet and aromatic, bringing fresh notes to the fish. As well as this, the wine acts as a palate cleanser to bring a lightness to any halibut based dishes.

  • Lobster and Chardonnay:

Undoubtedly, lobster is a luxury that must be the star of the dish. When you serve a fresh from the sea lobster, we advise pairing with a less bold wine, as it will be in a supporting role. There may be no better choice than a Chardonnay, as it is light and well-balanced. Look for light and crisp options, as these won’t muddle the flavour of the rich grilled lobster.

  • Scallops and Sancerre:

Scallops defining feature are their sweetness and buttery texture. With this in mind, try pairing them with a medium to full-bodied white, such as a Sancerre. Characteristically citrusy and acidic, the roundness of this wine pairs well with the simplicity of the scallops.