~By Andrea Pollock
The first official day of winter is fast approaching.
As a bit of that seasonal chill sets in it’s especially nice to sit down and share a bottle of wine that will warm you up from the inside out. I find that red wines are much more prone to providing this effect. There are some red wines that show the characteristics of menthol and eucalyptus. This menthalyptus effect is much like that deep, cleansing and medicinal feel of a breath of Vicks Vapo Rub. As the wine is swallowed, the menthol and eucalyptus notes in the wine warm the esophagus and give that instant soothing heat in your body. Minty, herbaceous undertones tend to resonate in your throat and nasal passage, which really help to open the sinuses and air passageways in the body.
Alcohol also provides a short term increase in body temperature and blood flow – this certainly helps to ramp up those warming effects from your glass of wine. Alcohol increases blood flow to the skin and will give that feeling of flushness, even causing you to perspire. Now these effects are only in the short term, because as the blood flow is redirected to your skin, it actually leaves your muscles and organs – lowering your overall body temperature. If you are enjoying a few drinks indoors, what you will notice are the nice, hot qualities of these types of wines that will warm you up. However you really should be careful if you have alcohol while enjoying outdoor activities, because your core temperature will drop – this coupled with diminished cognitive functioning can lead to poor decision making … and ultimately hypothermia, just be careful.
A great place to start looking for some of these warming qualities in a wine is to peruse through Australian Shiraz and Californian Cabernet Sauvignons. Both these warm climate reds manage to build those great warm flavours of menthol and eucalyptus while still providing nice fruit elements. Occasionally the fruit in these wines shows off more cooked fruit characteristics that are also very nice this time of year – mulled wine cider anyone?
Wines of the week
Yellowtail Shiraz 2009 [South Eastern Australia]
Eucalyptus and a big nose of fresh deli sandwiches – very tasty smells altogether. Nice dry flavours with a backbone of fruit that doesn’t overpower with too much sweetness. A nice vintage and example of the brand. 88/100 (April 3rd, 2011)
Strut Red Over Heels 2007 [VQA Okanagan Valley]
A warm, spicey nose that offers whiffs of cherry coke, cool menthol and red candy licorice. The flavours are nice with some pepper, a bit of sweet juice and a small amount of tannin that leaves a little bit of dryness on the palate. 87/100 (August 18, 2011)