Winter Warmers

Winter Warmers

Barry Weinman: 3rd June 2021

With the change in the weather, my mind automatically drifts to bigger, richer reds to drink with a hearty winter casserole or a comforting curry.

There is a lot of hesitation when it comes to selecting a wine to serve with spicy food. The fear is that the food will overpower the wine, reducing the enjoyment.

But I think it is important to differentiate between spice and chilli. There is no doubt that fiery food is a problem. Indeed, when the chilli is turned up, I have trouble tasting the food, let alone the wine that is accompanying it.

But spice is a different matter. We eat a lot of home-cooked curries, rich in flavour but with only a hint of chilli in the background. I also look for cleaner, fresher characters, avoiding the use of coconut cream and adding fresh herbs (coriander/spring onion) just before serving. You can get my recipe here.

The complex flavours of the dish can work brilliantly with a richer red, especially one with bottle age.

As much as I love Margaret River Cabernet, something a bit bolder in flavour would be my choice.

Barossa Valley is a great place to start. Welland is not a wine that I am overly familiar with but with access to excellent old-vines fruit and a skilled winemaking team, they are worth seeking out.

But dont rule out something crisp and aromatic like a Swan Valley Verdelho!


WellandOld Hands – Shiraz – 2018. Impenetrable colour in the glass. Sweet, ripe old-vines fruit and supple (American) oak are the key here, with polished tannins and acid providing structure and balance. Layers of spice sit in the background of what is a dense, complex and very fine wine. 95-96pts – $70

Welland – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. Mint, menthol, eucalypt, this has Cabernet written all over it, in a different expression to Margaret River. With power, intensity, beautifully ripe fruit, this reminds me of something from the Penfolds stable but at an affordable price. Not quite seamless, but excellent drinking. 94pts – $30

Nikola Estate – Verdelho – 2020. The first wine I have tried from the new owners of the Houghton winery in the Swan Valley, and it is a cracker. Fresh talc and floral notes that are pretty and delicate. Fine acidity adds life to what is a charming wine. 92pts.