A glass or two of wine might just be the thing to help ward off the common cold and the flu. OK, 15 minutes of daily exercise will help too. And Vitamin C, Echinacea, lemon ginger tea, chicken soup and washing your hands… and did I mention wine? Research indicates that it interferes with viral replication. Very personal hermeneutic public service announcement? Maybe. Perverse mantra of belief? Perhaps.
There are researchers and doctors who believe that certain chemical compounds in wine can help immunize the body against 100’s of common viruses. The antioxidant properties, called flavonoids, lower blood pressure and absorb harmful toxins in the body, including the nasty stuff in nasal passages. Though red wine generally contains more positive attributes like resveratrol and polyphenols (compounds that also attack bacteria), it’s effectiveness may be negated because, not unlike dairy, it can increase the production of mucus. The solution? Go white, but don’t mix it with medication.
But it’s cold outside, you say, and you don’t want to drink benumbed white wine on a frigid winter night. The esteemed NY Times wine critic once wrote, “Not so cold…doctor’s order. Good white wine shouldn’t be too cold.” The question is, what kind of white wine serves well, not so chilled. The answer lies in body, balm and colour, in opulent, canorous and warmer-hued wines. But mostly it’s about the aromatics. Look for clement whites with hyperbolic, expressive aromas. Seek out varietals such as Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Altesse, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Scheurebe, Riesling and Chardonnay. Whites made from grapes endowed with the most exaggerated scents; of spring flowers, citrus, tropical and stone fruit.
Here are five mellow whites to seek out this week for when the mercury falls on a frosty winter’s night.
The grape: Chardonnay
The history: Formerly Macon-Farges Paul Talmard, now produced by Mr. Talmard’s daughter Mallory and son-in-law Benjamin
The lowdown: The Mâconnais may be lower down on the Burgundy totem pole but quality is at an all-time high
The food match: Roasted Butternut Squash, maple syrup, toasted pistachios
Mallory & Benjamin Talmard Mâcon-Uchizy 2010 (733956, $14.95) forsakes oak for crystalline lucidity, green apple mineral punch and a late-night pistachio snack. Considered a lamb to some by Burgundian standards, but “as the neons dim,” this Chardonnay turns “to the coat of white.” A Genesis of great #ffffff value. 88 @TalmardMallory
The grape: Roussanne
The history: 100% Stainless Steel fermented Rhône ranger out of Mendocino by way of the Parducci family
The lowdown: The rarest of VINTAGES California sightings for this Southern Rhône varietal and only 225 cases produced
The food match: Roast Halibut, tabbouleh, beet hummus,
McNab Ridge Shadow Brook Farms Roussanne 2009 (312892, $18.95) waves the elderflower wand and casts a code white spell. Florally over the top, almost violent or even combative but what’s wrong with that? Balanced by a sweet shadowfall of peach marmalade. For something other, range to this Mendocino Rhône. 89 @McNabWines
The grape: Gewürztraminer
The history: A signature bottling for founder George Weiss
The lowdown: From Okanagan vineyards in both Kelowna and Kaleden at an average of 21 Brix. Their ’11 Pinot Gris and Unwooded Chardonnay were also terrific
The food match: Za’atar Crusted Roast Chicken, saffron rice, peach preserve
Gray Monk Gewürztraminer 2011 (321588, $19.95) articulates stone fruit from white peach to nectarine and citrus from clementine to mandarin. Does lychee, rose and pink grapefruit on a quieter note. White pepper and spice (cardamom, coriander) dust this dry yet profuse specimen. If only we would see their Siegerrebe here in Ontario. 88 @GrayMonkWinery
The grape: Pinot Grigio
The history: Three generations, forty years, from Tauriano di Spilimbergo within Friuli
The lowdown: This PG comes from Collio grapes near the Slovenian border
The food match: Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Almonds and Pomegranate Seeds
Fantinel Sant’Helena Pinot Grigio 2011 (310144, $19.95) shines copper in humid hue and is both herbal and cerebral for Pinot Grigio. A dashboard confessional suggesting tarragon, sage, capers, Acacia Flower and Adriatic salinity. A portrait for “cold nights and fires and white wine,” the only gift I need, though it may not strike the faint of PG hearts. 90 @ProfileWineGrp
The grape: Riesling
The history: The Berres family has lived and worked in Ürzig’s vineyards since 1510
The lowdown: Late harvest Riesling at its best, in vintage, quality and price. This vineyard is the “spice garden” of Ürzig, an amphitheater formed by a dramatic bend in the river Mosel. Loved the Kabinett too.
The food match: Panko Fried Shrimp, sweet, sour and spicy glaze
C.H. Berres Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 2010 (301952, $24.95) casts a whiter shade of pale, and trips the shining, soda light fantastic. Dances the spicy fandango perversely across the tongue and after just one sip that tongue has “turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor.” Dry, saline, seltzer up the nasal passage, sweet, exotic tropical fruit past the taste buds and a lengthy held note plays on. 91 @imbibersreport
Good to go!