Regardless of various groundhog day predictions of early springs or lingering winters, here in the Niagara region, we can vouch that winter is very much still in full effect. The hats, coats, mittens, scarfs, boots; scrapping your car in the morning and chilled drives to work, or the slippery and salty walks with your dog. We’ve learned to love the seasonality here in the Niagara region but what has helped us cope with the frigid winter temperatures is how we reward ourselves at the end of the day. Here are some wine pairing recommendations for your favourite winter comfort foods to help you to get cosy and unwind after a day in the hectic and chilly outdoors. If you are a wine novice, not a problem! We are the Wine Smart People™ and after years of offering educational Niagara wine tours, we have chosen some well-loved favourites as examples when you are planning your next meal on a blustery night. 

Heavy Red Meat Dishes

Granted, steak is a popular meal any time of the year but typically in the winter, we often enjoy heavy and meaty meals. The 2016 Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc by Trius is a 2019 Ontario Wine Awards (OWA) recipient that pairs undeniably with a medium-rare grilled steak and will bring the weight to match it as a heavier-bodied wine. If you are still learning how to choose a red wine and pair it heavier meats, an educational wine tour can introduce you to the different elements in a Niagara wine that are important when considering your menu. 

Meat Based Casseroles

Shepherd’s pie is definitely on our list of winter go-to traditional comfort foods. The composition is unique and so we’ve also chosen a Niagara speciality to pair with this dish with another OWA recipient for the Cogeco Blended Red Award. The Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2016 by Wayne Gretzky’s makes for a medium-bodied, blended red that will be sure to tie all the elements of a shepherds pie together. This wine will also pair nicely with a creamy stew – also perfect for a cold winter’s night. When you are considering pairing red wine with a Shepherd’s Pie, or rede meat-based dish, a wine with more tannins or bitterness is important. A Cabernet Sauvignon, with a higher tannin count, would work. But what you’ll learn on one of our wine tours is that a wine’s profile can be different for everyone and it is best to pair wine and food based on your personal preference. 

Cream Based Sides

Risotto is another dish which has the flexibility to be a very versatile dish and so your pairing will depend on what you like with your risotto. But if we can make you a suggestion, it would be a mushroom risotto paired with the 2017 Gastronomy Chardonnay by Niagara College Teaching Winery which was a gold medal recipient 2019 OWA. Although winter is the season for reds, we wanted to include something for our white drinkers out there! An oaked Chardonnay will do just the trick for this dish as it will enrich the buttery flavour and match the weight of this dish! Delicious!

Be sure to visit all three of these award-winning wineries in Niagara on the Lake during a winter wine tour. Our Wine Smart Guides are wonderful resources when it comes to recommended pairings plus during a tour, you’re able to bring a bottle or two of your favourites home. By booking our Half Day Niagara Wine + Cheese tour, we can facilitate a safe, comfortable, and fun visit to each of these three destinations.

Check out our blog on why you can’t miss a visit to these wineries in the winter months.