I’ve just received my latest energy bill and it appears that I’ve been living this last year in a draughty manor house rather than a three–bedroom ex-council flat. This winter, I’m going to have to choose between a warm flat and decent-quality booze. Of course it’s going to be the booze; I’ll just have to wear a woolly hat and fingerless gloves whilst drinking.
At times like this, I thank God for the ingenuity of the British. Other cold countries have drinks to combat the winter — the Russians have vodka, the Swedes have schnapps and the Mongolians have fermented yak’s milk. These are drinks to achieve oblivion rather than to savour. We, however, have a whole smorgasbord of drinks to help us through the winter.
The best wines for cold weather come from hot countries, funnily enough. Wines such as Barossa Shiraz from Australia temper the longing in the British soul for sunshine. But the ultimate winter wines are the fortifieds. These wines were created by the British in the 18th and 19th century by taking strong southern European wines and making them stronger still. This was done to survive long sea voyages but they accidently created the perfect winter drinks because the added alcohol not only made them stronger, it also stopped fermentation, so the resulting wine was often sweet.
This article appeared in the Spectator. Click here to read more.