Morgan VanderKamer, wine director at Stanley’s Wine Bar & Restaurant, shares her tips for tipples and where to find the best value wines…
What are the best wines as it gets colder?
I have recently changed the wine list at Stanley’s to adjust to the upcoming winter season. After showcasing a chilled red wine section in the list over the summer, the time of year has daintily turned to things a bit warmer and comforting. One of my favourite wines which I have by the glass is called Rossignol by Pietro Zardini, a very elegant and well structured Amarone-style wine. This wine is exceptional for drinking on its own, with winter meat dishes, and can go right through to the end of a meal when paired with blue cheese.
What about white wines, which seem to get a little neglected during winter time?
White Burgundy is always a pleasure to drink. My current Bourgogne Blanc is from producer Vincent Dancer – balanced with excellent body and oak, which is produced from young Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault vines. It’s top quality without breaking the bank.
Any more unconventional wines worth a look?
I’ve always been a fan of orange wines and they never disappoint with rich seafood dishes, in particular monkfish, which for fish, has a lot of texture. Orange wines provide just enough tannin and acidity and perfectly match with unusual foods like artichokes, tomatoes and, of course, cheese. One of my favourites is Matassa Coume d’Olla from the Cotes Catalans in France – excellent when served slightly chilled.
What about some champagne to celebrate at Christmas?
1195 Blanc de Millenaires from Charles Heidsieck is up there as one of the top champagnes I’ve tried, and the house is my favourite Grand Marque. You’ll pay good money for it, but it is worth every last penny and leaves a lasting memory. Lastly, I have become very fond of the often-overlooked cognac and armagnac, an excellent way to finish a special dinner at this time of year. At Stanley’s we currently have a range of Leopold Gourmel’s cognacs, which are exquisite.
What’s your wine of choice at the moment?
It’s always mood dependant, but chilled reds and sherry are always on the top of my list. I also like more full-bodied whites, such as skin contact Grüner Veltliner or more robust orange wines, which has the right acidity, tannin and flavour profile to suit tough-to-match foods such as garlic and tomatoes.
Any new discoveries of note?
Recently I’ve been enjoying wines from Georgia, where they still practice traditional winemaking techniques – thousands of years later – and use grape varietals not found elsewhere.
Any tips on how to keep it affordable but interesting?
Today’s best value wines are coming from Spain and Portugal: wines made from indigenous grapes such as Baga in Bairrada and the more obscure Prieto Picudo of Spain are shining in the glass.
What pairings would you recommend for these colder months?
Some of my favourite seasonal food and wine pairings feature sherry, such as dry Oloroso with steak tartare. Beetroot makes great company for wines such as Loire Cabernet Franc, Narello Mascalese and Gamay and richer Alsace white.
And how about a good all-rounder combination?
Gewürztraminer is often overlooked for everyday drinking but its aromatics and structure are excellent with food, while Austrian reds and whites never fail me when it comes to pairing.