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Warm Up with Wine!

The best choices for imbibing during the colder season

By Jillian Chandler

It’s wintertime, and here in the Inland Northwest, that means the temperatures are freezing and there’s a good chance that on any given day we’ve got plenty of snow on the ground—or at least up in the mountains! Gone are the days—at least for the next several months—of enjoying a cold brew or chilled chardonnay out on the patio as the warmth of the sun beats down on our faces and we search for a little shade to shield the heat. But for now, let’s embrace this cold and snowy season and warm up next to a hot, cozy fire with a nice glass of wine.

“Any red wine is sure to warm you!” affirms Natalie Barnes, winemaker for Latah Creek Wine Cellars in Spokane Valley, Washington. “The higher alcohol content in these wines is what leads to the warm, cuddling feeling you get, which is why they are most often reached for during the colder months.”

During the winter season, many people may opt for a wine cocktail instead, such as mulled wine. “It is fun to experiment with mulled wine,” shares Natalie. “You can find hundreds of recipes online, and as you taste them you can adapt them to your preference of spices. Plus, when you are making it, it fills your house with the most amazing aromas!”

Kylie Presta, winemaker of Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint, Idaho, recommends full-bodied, complex varietals for the cooler fall and winter months. “These wines offer a richness, which warms and comforts,” she says. When choosing a wine to complement the season, she suggests Pend d’Oreille Winery’s 2018 Syrah, 2018 Primitivo and 2015 Meyer Cabernet. “The Syrah is a perfect balance of fruit and spice and pairs well with roasted pork and gourmet cheeses; the Primitivo offers flavors of candied fruit and caramel and pairs well with roasted vegetables and fall soups; the Meyer Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant reserve wine, ideal for winter enjoyment.”

When it comes to a wine that you can enjoy on any day but also works well for a special occasion, she recommends a bottle of their most popular red blend, Bistro Rouge. “Our Bistro Rouge is essentially a Bordeaux blend with a fruit-forward flavor followed by cinnamon and rosemary,” she shares. “This wine pairs well with a very casual meal or fine dining.” Bistro Rouge is also available on tap at the winery, with the option to refill your wine bottle. She adds that she tends to keep a bottle of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for guests and dinner wine, as these are “reliably interesting and pleasant wines.”

Red wines are not your only choice for the season, as Kylie explains that their house Chardonnay is the most popular option for a white wine preference and pairs lovely in complementing any Thanksgiving table.

Pend d’Oreille Winery recently bottled their 2019 vintage of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. “We also bottled our dessert port-style wine, Oui, to be released by the holidays,” Kylie shares. “We anticipate many delicious wines, and we can’t wait for you to try them!”

According to Natalie, “Quite a bit of the time, people like to drink wines that are refrigerated during the summer, as it is hot outside and a nice and cool crisp Pinot Gris is perfect for sipping outside on your patio. During the colder months, you are more likely to reach for the reds, as they are served around room temperature and give you that nice warm feeling as they go down.”

At Latah Creek, they tend to promote their wines with this same idea (i.e. choosing a Wine of the Month) but always tell customers that it is more important to drink what they enjoy rather than trying to stick with an older tradition.

“For myself personally, I drink red wines for dinner 95 percent of the time and save the other wines for other times of the day,” says Natalie. “This does not mean, though, that I don't open up a different type of wine once in a while and try it with my dinner as well, so that I can make a real, tried-and-true suggestion on wine pairings for everyone.”

When it comes to Latah Creek’s wine offerings, Natalie’s top suggestion is always their Mike's Reserve Red, “as blends are one of my most favorite wines!” she smiles. “Don't get me wrong, I love varietals as well, but one of my favorite things to do for winemaking is to take various wines and combine them to make something extra special! We are actually, for the first time ever, going to have our Mike's Reserve Red no.2 and Mike's Reserve Red no.3 released at the same time! We normally wait until we are out of the previous vintage before we bring out the next one, but these two blends are so different and both so good, we couldn't wait to release no.3, so we are doing it now! I also love to suggest our Mulled Wine. We take our Sangria, add our mulling spice bag, heat in the microwave, and you have one delicious, mouth-watering, perfect-for-cold-weather drink!”

As Natalie suggests, it’s a good idea to keep a variety of wines on hand for guests, as everyone has different tastes. “My mom prefers dry whites, one of my friends drinks only Riesling, and I prefer red.” As she is herself an avid home chef, she likes to keep different types of wine on hand to use in her cooking. “Just a small amount can drastically change the flavor palate of a meal, many times adding that much needed ‘extra’ flavor component.” Latah Creek’s dessert wine, Natalie's Nectar, is not only wonderful for drinking any time of year, but it is her go-to and the one she most often uses when cooking. “With its concentrated flavor, it really boosts the meal!” she affirms. “I also love to serve this for dessert with dark chocolate when company is over; perfect for when you have already slaved over dinner, it is a nice treat to have dessert taken care of so simply!”

At the end of the day, whether you prefer red or white, dessert wines or mulled wines, there’s no wrong answer when deciding on your favorite wines to enjoy during the snowy season. Pour a glass and toast to a season of warmth and good wine. Cheers!

Tasting Rooms Worth a Stop and a Sip!

Inland Northwest wineries have continued to make a name for themselves both locally and nationally. Now is the perfect time to savor a glass of award-winning wine from one of our local wineries.

Barrister Winery

1213 W. Railroad Ave.

Spokane, WA

509.465.3591 |

CastAway Cellars

210 Sherman Ave., Ste. 161

Coeur d'Alene, ID

208.819.1296 |

Coeur d’Alene Cellars

3890 N. Schreiber Way

Coeur d'Alene, ID

208.664.2336 |

Latah Creek Wine Cellars

13030 E. Indiana Ave.

Spokane, WA

509.926.0164 |

Maryhill Winery - Spokane Tasting Room

1303 W. Summit Parkway, Ste. 100

Spokane, WA

Pend d’Oreille Winery

301 Cedar St.

Sandpoint, ID

208.265.8545 |

Townshend Cellar

8022 E. Greenbluff Rd.

Colbert, WA

509.238.1400 |

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