As the temperatures fall and the days get shorter, there are many ways to stay warm in Park City. Relaxing with a fine meal and the ideal bottle of wine may just top the list.
We asked some of our best local wine experts to present their winning recommendations for the season.
By Laura Jackson
David Johndrow, Founder/Owner, Johndrow Wines –
“When the winter snow begins to fall in mountain towns, people are playing in it during the day and enjoying more complex dining experiences in the evening. That often means hearty dinners and great wine.
Owning a vineyard in Napa and having access to some of the best wines in the world, as well as being a vintner that specializes in Cab, here’s what I’m looking to drink. Again, I head to the mountains. Not the ski mountains, but those of wine country. We grow on Howell Mountain and our wines, as well as my neighbors’, are intense wines that will almost act like ameal on their own, and stand up to heartier meals. Some of my favorites are from my good friend, Robin Lail, J Daniel Cuvee’s Cabernet blend, which is elegant yet sophisticated. Another favorite is Trifecta’s Pinot Noir. Not your prototypical Pinot, it has layers upon layers of flavor and complexity.”
Kevin Hines, Director of Food and Beverage, The St. Regis Deer Valley
“Some winter favorites would be full-bodied Cabernets and Bordeaux style blends such as Spring Valley Vineyards’ “Uriah” which is a predominantly Merlot-based Bordeaux style blend, but which also has a good dose of Cabernet Franc and a little Petit Verdot to give it the balance and elegance to allow it to stand up to large cuts of wild game or chilly nights by the fire.
If you are looking to dine on something a little lighter, such as Sockeye Salmon or a Double Cut Pork Chop from one of our local farms in the Uintas, I might suggest a Pinot from Belle Glos Winery such as Meiomi. Or if you want to really get crazy the “Clark and Telephone” vineyard designate also produced by Belle Glos is outstanding.”
Dave Wallace, Beverage Director, Montage Deer Valley
“Winter does trend towards fuller bodied wines due to the simple fact that the dishes being prepared in winter are heartier. You don’t want the wine to get lost in the dish. Having too light of a wine is just as undesirable as having too big of a wine with the accompanying dish.
Balance is key to proper and enjoyable pairings. You want the flavors to complement and integrate with each other. There are many areas around the world that produce full-bodied, robust wines that pair beautifully with hearty winter dishes. Some of my ‘go-to’ areas of production would be: Ribera del Duero and Rioja from Spain, Tuscany and Piedmont from Italy, Chile and Argentina from South America, Washington and Napa Valley from the U.S., and Burgundy and Bordeaux from France. I find these wines to be nurtured, balanced and beautiful. They represent a sense of place, tradition and quality.”
Cara Schwindt, Wine Director, Stein Eriksen Lodge
“Full-bodied red wines are a terrific option as the weather turns chilly. During the winter there is also a place for lighter wines as well. A glass of Champagne is a perfect way to start a meal any time of year. As snow falls in this mountain town, a glass of White Burgundy is also a welcome refresher.
The main white grape variety in the Burgundy region of France is Chardonnay. These mineral scented wines can range from light and easy drinking to full- bodied and intensely flavored. Burgundy wines range from regional wines, to village wines, to premier cru and finally grand cru. These historic designations are like stepping stones of intensity in the flavors of the wines.”
Sean Marron, Director of Wine and Spirits, The Farm
“There are a few things that distinguish great winter wines. They are often symbolic of the season, like sparkling wines, which set the celebratory tone for the holiday season that kicks off winter. Statistically this is the time of year sparkling wines are most consumed. For the winter, the best ones are those with relatively more red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) in the blend, as these grapes give the wine more heft and richness.
Not to be too much of an ‘Einstein’, but there should also be a theory of relativity in effect, whereby whatever your preferred wine is, you drink the relatively richer version of it in winter. For example, if you are a Pinot Noir lover, you might savor those of Santa Barbara (whose style is often darker in color and more powerful in flavor) in the winter, as opposed to the relatively finesse style of an Oregon Pinot. Or if Spanish wines are your thing, you might drink a richer red like a Garnacha from Priorat or a Mencia from the Northwest, instead of the Rioja red you might prefer in the summer.
And while winter is typically red wine season, white wine drinkers should not suffer, but in the winter the ideal whites are not those crisp, fruit-driven whites of summer, but rather richer, more textural white wines like Chardonnay, as well as rich aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Viognier.”
After receiving an enlightening education on winter wines, I asked our experts to choose one delectable dish off their restaurants’ winter menus and provide a pairing suggestion. Next, they were asked to describe a winter dish they would make at home along with a wine you can buy locally in Park City.
Warning: Uncontrollable mouth watering ahead.
No winter blues here, but some reds and whites to be enjoyed by a warm fire in good company….Cheers!