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Best Bonfire Night wines

The Decanter tasting team don their mittens and duffle coats to search for warming wines to drink while enjoying the fireworks this weekend.

‘Remember, remember…’

Lest you forget, the 5 November, also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, marks the failure of a plot to kill King James I in 1605. Fires were lit to celebrate, and the annual public day of thanksgiving eventually became a gathering in which people ‘burn’ their sorrows and merrily protest against the establishment. For that reason it’s not uncommon to see cut-outs of politicians burning on Bonfire Night…

The night also serves as the unofficial start of the festive season, kicking off weeks imbued with a sense of celebration and indulgence.

With that in mind, we have selected 10 wines that will be perfect companions around the bonfire, glass in hand. These are warming pours to keep the cold at bay, lift the spirits and pair with the hearty dishes the night calls for.

A sense of warmth does not necessarily mean high alcohol. Other structural components can also contribute to a sense of comforting lusciousness in wine. These include intense, ripe flavours; smooth but firm tannins; warming spicy notes; and a creamy texture.

A feast of colour

Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised to find wines of different colours and styles on the list below. It’s a mistake to think that only robust reds can provide the sense of comfort we seek on cold days and with hearty meals.

A generous white, such as a softly textured Garnacha Blanca, a creamy Viognier or an oak-fermented Chardonnay, are perfect autumnal wines and the ideal pairing companions to the season’s game and root vegetable dishes. Be brave and explore lesser-known varieties or unexpected expressions of famous grapes. If you haven’t tried a dry Furmint, now is a great time. The variety’s trademark herbal lining and affinity with wood make them ideal autumnal whites.

The flavour complexity, savoury layers and textural appeal of orange wines (skin-fermented whites) also makes them a great option for chilly evenings – especially since they make such outstanding food companions. The same could be said of intense rosés, where nuanced aromas and a firm backbone meet a subtle tannic grip. 

Remember that neither orange wines nor rich whites and rosés should be served too chilled. They are best enjoyed when their aromatic complexity and texture are allowed to shine.

Fortify yourself

What about a glass of Port or Sherry? Intense yet elegant, with vibrant acidity balancing the sweetness and alcohol, these fortified wines are guaranteed to warm you up.

There are great value choices on this list; celebrating doesn’t mean breaking the bank, as many of our top picks from The Wine Society, LidlMajestic, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose or Tesco have shown.

Open one, or more, of these bottles, light the bonfire and get warm. Inside and out. These wines will pair perfectly with hearty, flavourful dishes (a rich pasta or a lamb stew for example) or, in full fiery mood, some barbecued meat or vegetables.

‘If you don’t give me one, I’ll take two,

The better for me, and the worse for you.’

10 warming wines for Bonfire Night

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