Central Otago pinot noir
Sometimes serious red drinkers can eschew pinot in the cooler months in favor of some, traditionally, big bodied varieties this, however, is a mistake. Pinot is such a chameleon of a variety that it's crazy not to drink it all year round. Central Otago, typically, produces pinots of serious power and weight so they can take the barrage of flavor that accompanies many winter foods. For something really special try with a rabbit ragu which will surely warm the belly and soul. When selecting your Central Otago pinot don't be afraid to go for one with a little age, these wines tend to show fantastic complex characters after 3-5 years in the bottle.
These elegant yet powerful wines from the south of France are perfect for a chilly night by the fire. Bursting with plum, spice and earthy/ gamey notes they can incorporate a huge variety of flavors and be both bold or subtle. Nothern Rhône typically gives you higher acidity, tannin and can be a bit more serious. They the payoff, however, can be huge if nab a great bottle, look out for a bottle of Saint-Joseph as a good starting point. The Southern Rône is more forgiving on both the beginners' palate and pocket with easy drinking medium bodied 'Côtes du Rhône' being a great entry point. Pair these with braises such as slow-cooked lamb shoulder for something truly memorable.
The big mumma of Italy, the wine that sends wine nerds into a frenzy, this northern Italian legend can fill any void left by a cold, lonely winter. Nebbiolo is the grape variety and paired with the misty hills of the Piedmont region you end of with a wine of immense power yet poise. Look for wines with at least 5+ years on them and be prepared to throw them in a decanter or jug, it works the same, do this all in an effort to slightly soften the wall of tannin that inevitably greets you when drinking these wines. They pair perfectly with hearty stews, rich risottos and especially Osso Bucco.
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