Food and Wine: Winning Winter Combinations

The cooler seasons are the best for indulging in wonderful food and wine indoors. So grab some friends, a few fresh ingredients, crank up the open fire, and take note of the best tipple tips to get you started.

There's nothing more indulgent than feasting on the best food and wine during the chilly weather, right? Food and wine expert and cookbook author Kate Gibbs, shares with us winning food and wine combinations for winter, so you can prepare the perfect night in with friends.

Which wine?

Feel like choosing the vine less travelled? “Go for it!” enthuses Kate. “Do something a bit different. Sauvignon Blanc is the highest selling wine in Australia by some margin, so if you always drink Sauvignon Blanc, try something new,” she says. “After all, the best wine to choose is the one you like!”

Orange is the new white

“I’m a huge fan of orange wine right now,” notes Kate, who credits its minerality and lightness as big attractions. “It often has good tannin too, which works well with food.” Kate suggests looking out for orange wines that are made from white grapes fermented on their skins for longer. “These wines are often complex and I find they often work very well with food. They have a savoury element which I prefer.” Kate credits wine writer Mike Bennie as the best guide here, with local producers including Lucy Margaux, Shobbrook, Si Vinters and Patrick Sullivan all on his hit list.

Taste test

  • “Put your nose right in there, right into the glass,” encourages Kate. “It should smell clean and you should like it."
  • When swilling in the mouth, take note of tannin, which will work well with food.
  • Speak up with each sip! “It depends what you’re looking for and how you plan to drink it but I prefer red wine to white, so I’ll ask a million questions when wine tasting to learn what will work with what I like to cook.”

Food rules

1. There’s a move in food and wine circles away from matching the two, says Kate. “Slowly we’re breaking down generations of the ideas that there is only one way to do things in terms of eating and drinking, so be more adventurous with what drop you serve when dining,” she suggests.

2. “I love tannin in wine, especially when serving with food. Tannin refreshes the palate, so you can have a sip of wine before you take the next mouthful of food; it works well. Tannins work like acidity as they clean the palate of fat and prepare it for the next flavour.”

3. As a general rule, red wine will keep a day or so, but it’s better within 24 hours of opening, says Kate, adding that any and any other leftover wine is always a good excuse to make a coq au vin. “I have a recipe for a white coq au vin in my book Margaret and Me, out in May this year. Half a bottle for the recipe, half for the cook!” she laughs.

4. Wine not your drop? Go for a spirit, urges Kate. “We all know how good a Bloody Mary is with breakfast, after all. Mixologists now are using vegetables in cocktails a lot, turning out carrot martinis for example. That sort of drink goes beautifully with food,” she says. “A carrot martini with a kingfish sashimi, or seared scallops! Divine.” 

Vessel truths

The vessel impacts things remarkably, says Kate. “It’s all very cute drinking out of a tumbler - or understandable if you’re desperate and resort to a plastic cup – but if you drink a Pinot Noir out of a Shiraz glass, it will taste bland and flat compared to when it's poured into its appropriate glass,” she points out. “It’s worth investing in a few different glasses so the wine you’re drinking at home is given a chance to be its best."

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