It's getting time to 'Hygge'...!
For those unfamiliar with 'hygge', pronounced 'hoo-guh' it's a scandinavian word for a mood of coziness, comfortable warmth, bonhomie and contentment.
I associate it with when the weather turns a little cooler & we crave food & drink that makes us feel warm & cozy inside & deeply satisfied all around.
With the holidays fast approaching we want to drink wines that yes, still retain a vibrancy & freshness, but are also a little richer, more complex & seductive. something that envelops you in it’s delicious, lingering embrace & leaves you wanting more!
In the white world, wines with some age on them & wines with a little more weight to them are what we're looking for. varietals & regions that come to mind are, grenache blanc from the southern rhône, unctuous chenin blanc’s from the loire valley, viura from rioja or savagnin for the jura.
In the red world try the oh so unfashionable bordeaux region again (don’t get me started), big boys from the valpolicella region such as amarone, schioppettino from friuli or head to california where the next generation of wine makers are creating rivetingly profound, fairly priced wines. (you no longer need to pony up $200+/btl.!!!)
As we travel from autumn into winter i will continue to expand on my favorite ‘hygge’ wines & the regions they come from, but for now see the one below for starters:
R. López de Heredia - Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva 2004
approx. $50... i know $50 seems a lot, but remember this is a 14 yr. old wine, aged impeccably with in their cellars & released only when they feel it's ready & let's face it you can spend $50 for a wine that's 2 years old & nowhere near it's peak drinking window.
Oh boy is this amazing! made from 90% viura & 10% malvasia, R. López de Heredia age it for 6 yrs. in used oak, followed by another 4 yrs. resting in bottle, a relative baby as far as R. López de Heredia are concerned! golden in color, it retains freshness & vibrancy from it's backbone of crisp acidity, with a waxy, textural viscosity, notes of hazelnut, candied citrus peel & quince dance over the palate as the light tannins & expressive finish linger for what seems like an age.
pair with: fresh, head on shrimp 'portuguese style'.
put olive oil, roughly chopped garlic, smoked paprika & a touch of dried piri-piri powder (depending on desired spice level) into a bowl, toss in the shrimp & coat them well with all the spices. get a cast iron skillet super hot, drop in the coated shrimp & cook for approx. 2 minutes on each side. place the shrimp on a platter, spoon over all the cooking juices & spices, sprinkle with some chopped parsley & don't forget to suck all the flavorful goodness from the heads.
1) please do not serve the wine overly chilled.
2) many rioja houses age their wines (white & red) within their cellars until they feel comfortable releasing them to the world, ensuring perfect aging conditions & provenance. this makes them incredible bargains in the world of fine, aged wines & you should seek them out as often as possible. want to buy a 14 yr. old bottle of bordeaux or burgundy & it'll be in the many hundred of dollars category, not around $50.