Winter Whites: Sauvignon Blanc
While most people open red wines when the temperature drops, I find that white wine pairs wonderfully with many wintery dishes. One of my favorites is Sauvignon Blanc. Pronounced "SOH-vin-yon blanhk," it's a racy white varietal produced in many wine regions, including France, California, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile.
The trick with Sauvignon Blanc is that the flavor changes depends on where it was grown, so you'll just have to try a handful and decide which ones you like best. (Tough job, I know.) France's Sauvignon Blanc, called Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, is almost always a lean, unoaked wine with hints of smokiness while New Zealand produces more grassy, herbacious Sauv Blancs. Napa Valley Sauv Blanc is almost always a richer, more fruit forward wine, and Sauv Blanc from Chile tends to be fruity and lighter bodied. You'll find a wide range of prices, as well - they start at $7 and go up to $30. (Two of my favorite California Sauv Blancs are pictured; Sauvignon Republic and Ferrari-Carano from Sonoma County.) Regardless of which one you choose, it's easy to find a food match: Sauv Blanc is the best pairing for vegetables, as well as goat cheese, chicken, pork, and seafood.
One note before you hit the wine store: Fume Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are the same thing. In the 1970's Robert Mondavi made a French-style Sauv Blanc and called it Fume Blanc, and what started as a marketing gimmick became part of the wine vernacular. (Fume means smoke in French, a nod to the smokey characteristics of French Sauv Blanc.)