Surviving a long, cold winter is all about mastering the art of getting cozy, starting with a hot meal and glass of wine. When the temperature drops, nothing beats the smell of something delicious simmering on the stove all afternoon while you enjoy a drink by the fireplace. But if you think boeuf bourguignon and a bottle of red is your only option, you’re happily mistaken.
White wines, especially those from northern Italy’s Alto Adige, are the true underdogs of winter. They pair perfectly with many seasonal dishes and hearty ingredients. Ingredients like roast chicken and pork, rich seafoods, and root vegetables, plus creamy bisques and spicy curries, go hand in hand with the citrus and floral notes in certain white varietals from this Alpine region.
For the uninitiated, a great place to start when getting to know the area is Kettmeir, a winery founded by Giuseppe Kettmeir in 1919 that produces some of Italy’s most prestigious wines, specializing in food-friendly, versatile whites. Located in the hills of Caldaro in the heart of the lush Alto Adige, conditions are ideal for grape cultivation, with a range of soil types, altitudes and temperatures. These wines have a strong sense of place thanks to the lake and its microclimate; the gentle, predominately flat valley; and the protective hills and soils of glacial origin, which force the vines to send roots deep underground.
Complex and sophisticated, expect Pinot Grigio to have elegant floral, citrus, and peach notes followed by a dry, crisp finish. Golden in color, a pinot grigio from this area will have a refreshing nose with pear and apple aromas. It’s perfect for pairing with full flavors. It’s a classic example of everything an Alto Adige wine should be.
You’ll also find Pinot Bianco, which hails from the cool, pre-Alps part of the Alto Adige, where long, sunny days create the ideal environment for this lovely, refreshing white. A Pinot Bianco leads with white floral, green apple, and citrusy aromas, followed by a dry palate bright with stone fruit, lime peel, and herbal notes. Bright acidity and a mineral-driven finish make it pair beautifully with an array of dishes, especially those involving seafood and shellfish.
Müller-Thurgau is another to keep on your radar this winter. Fresh and fragrant with hints of white mountain flowers, honeydew melon, and pungent citrus blossom, the wine’s dry palate features ripe pear and Fuji apple flavors on a solid backbone of acidity. Its clean, crisp finish makes it a great wine to pair with hard-to-match dishes and several Asian cuisines.
Here are six soups and stews from the Alto Adige region to pair with your winter whites this season.
Creamy Lobster Bisque paired with Pinot Bianco
Decadent lobster bisque is just what the doctor orders when it’s too cold to go outside, and this bright, acidic Pinot Bianco is an elegant counterpoint to this rich dish.
Jidori Shio Ramen paired with Pinot Grigio
The complex umami flavors of ramen broth need a wine with plenty of acidity to cut through the intensity, and the citrus, mineral, and mountain pear of this Pinot Grigio make it just the wine to sip as you slurp the chill of winter away. In addition the wine’s clean and bright flavors can easily take on a variety of common ramen toppings — seaweed, scallion, egg, garlic, corn, and bamboo shoots.
Thai Butternut Squash Soup paired with Müller-Thurgau
Hearty root vegetable soups tend to have a lot going on under the lid. When working with a nuanced dish, rich with curry, coriander, and coconut milk, your best bet is a wine that can wear many hats, like the elegantly spiced Müller-Thurgau.
Cioppino Stew paired with Pinot Bianco
Cioppino, an Italian-American fisherman’s stew, is chock full of the best ingredients the sea has to offer: clams, mussels, and shrimp, to name a few. The bright tomato base offers a light backdrop to the dish, which is just asking to be sopped up with a piece of crusty Italian bread. A Pinot Bianco, with its herbal notes and hints of stone fruit, is an ideal match for this seafood-centric meal.
Classic Turkey Minestrone paired with Pinot Grigio
Minestrone is a traditional Italian soup, but the best part about it is how you can throw whatever you have in the fridge into your pot and call it a day. When making a turkey version with beans, leafy greens like spinach, and a hearty dose of pasta, the apple and pear notes in this Pinot Grigio will help bring out all the flavors of your soup.
Curried Lentil Soup paired with Müller-Thurgau
Lentil soup can easily veer into the boring category if not built properly from the ground up. Get a good mirepoix going and then start layering spices such as curry, cumin, and turmeric to develop flavor. The same complexity is key when it comes to your wine, which is why a fragrant and pungent Müller-Thurgau should do the trick.
This article is sponsored by Kettmeir.