Rhys Baker, Swinging Bridge Wines General Manager & Sommelier, shares a few of his favourite things.
As the cold sets in and the fires are lit, Orange becomes a winter wonderland. Evenings are spent at home, sitting on the lounge with my wife Laura and my son Harrison, snuggled up watching something on TV (most likely Peppa Pig – his choice, not ours!).
No wintery evening would be complete for us without a meal shared and a wine opened. My pick for winter is our #008 Cabernet Franc Shiraz blend. I’m not the biggest fan of super heavy reds, so this stays light and fresh, but the Shiraz gives it a bit more body to warm you up. It’s a great option to pair with a heap of different food dishes. For me, it’s hard to go past a soup in winter (they’re also easy to make with a toddler running around!) and I’ve found a good match for the #008 in a Moroccan pumpkin, sweet potato, and lentil soup I make.
It might not come as a surprise, but I’m a huge wine nerd! Nine out of ten books I read are wine text books and my favourite is probably ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. If that’s a little too serious I would recommend ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller’ by Italo Calvino. It’s a crazy story about the reader trying to read the book in question – a bit wacky and bizarre but perfect if you too need an alternative to Peppa Pig.
While winter would usually mean having friends around to play board games, we are waiting once again for the opportunity to cook for them, sharing good wine and good times. Especially for the excuse to make Hot Buttered Rums, excellent when it’s really, really cold!
When I’m keen for a little more adventure (and border restrictions allow), a trip to Melbourne or Tasmania gives me more of those wintery feelings. I love being able to rug up super well and travel around different bars where you can drink warming drinks around fire pits. Heading to Tasmania for Dark Mofo, or to Melbourne for a self guided wintery themed bar crawl, you end up almost forgetting that it’s the middle of winter.
I really love how spooky and foggy Orange gets during winter, it gives a bit of suspense and eeriness to the region. I love how as we get towards the end of winter, you start to see things waking up, trees and plants coming to life, and then boom, the vines have bud break and the new vintage begins!