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Honey, it’s cold outside. Fill your glass

    I’ve just come in from half an hour down the high street, and the soles of my feet feel like ice-cube trays. My fingers are still stiff. I’ve just had the last of the mushroom barley soup and still I feel like walking permafrost. The thought of a warming drink with supper (it’s always braised meat at the moment) is almost enough to make me stop shivering.

    But what to warm up with when dinnertime approaches? It’s a myth, as you probably know, that alcohol itself has a warming effect. If you’re outside, it may make you feel warmer but actually makes you lose body heat more rapidly: blood vessels under the skin dilate, thus carrying a heftier flow of blood, which will get cooled faster by exposure to the cold (potentially very dangerous). If you’re inside, the vessels will feel the effects of the warmth more keenly (potentially very enjoyable.)

    Of course, this happens whatever you’re drinking. A well-chilled New Zealand sauvignon blanc – or an ice-cold Martini – has the same effect as a massive barolo. But that’s beside the point. Some wines speak of warm weather and others of the wintry depths. Though not a fanatic about seasonal appropriateness, I do want my winter warmers to be three things: generous in flavour (with a touch of spice if possible), reasonably priced, and very agreeable to being served with braised meat.

    So, that leads me, shivering, to a sale offer from Tanner’s (www.tanners-wines.co.uk) which runs until February 17 — Coto de Hayas Crianza 2008, Campo de Borja. This region in northern Spain yields a good number of well-priced wines that give some lower-echelon riojas a run for their money. This garnacha/tempranillo blend, juicy and lightly spicy, is one of them. It’s £5.99 reduced from £7.45 while the sale’s on.

    It leads me to a perennial favourite from Oddbins — Quinta de Bons Ventos 2010 (£6.50). The classic Portuguese red grape varieties in an easy-going and slightly voluptuous format.

    And finally — Tesco Finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011 (£6.99), a meaty, well balanced example at a very good price. Easy on pocket, warming on palate.

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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