When you need to warm up and get cosy, nothing chases away that winter chill like a big, fine bottle of wine. And to get you through this extreme mid-winter weather, we have asked founder of the KwaZulu-Natal School of Wine and winemaker, Laurie Smorthwaite, to share her best five wines that are good for this season that people can search out.
“The winter weather is creeping in and what better excuse to sit down on a chilly evening with a roaring fire and a bottle of your favourite tipple?” she said.

Smorthwaite has put together a selection of wines – the kind of wines that she thinks are perfect for fireplace conversations and slow-cooked meals.

The Abingdon Viognier 2015: this is a local latest release from Abingdon Wine estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. It will keep you coming back for more. One can enjoy the rich fruit flavours of peach and apricot, subtle spice and creamy butterscotch finish from time spent in oak. This is the perfect white wine to serve a little warmer (8-10 degrees) and enjoy with aromatic dishes.
Serving: Viognier loves dishes such as a light Thai green curry or a spiced bobotie with apricot glaze. Be sure to keep the chilli mild and focus on the flavours of your aromatics such as lemon grass, cumin and turmeric for best effect. 

The Mount Abora Saffraan Cinsault 2015: winter is not all about the chilly evenings enjoying basking in the Durban winter sun, with this delicate style red on those warmer days. Enjoy the wine chilled down to 13 degrees. Light yet earthy, this wine smarts of fresh strawberries and cherries, with aromas of fynbos and jasmine.
Serving: Enjoy over a lunch time braai accompanied with a sweet potato, fennel and pomegranate salad.

The De Krans Tritonia Red 2015: using the traditional warm climate grapes of Portugal, this rich and powerful wine is perfect for winter days, wrapped next to a fire, with wholesome comfort foods. Full-bodied with ripe dark fruits, chocolate and earthy spice.
Serving: Any delicious rich winter warmers.  This is a match made in heaven for easy home dining and one-pot casseroles. The De Krans Tritonia Red has enough power to match hearty oxtail or lamb potjie. 

The Eagles Nest Merlot 2014; another gem from one of my favourite wine estates at the top of the Constantia valley, a velvet Merlot filled with vibrant red fruit, rich plum and subtle baking spice.
Serving: A traditional roast lamb, mint sauce and roasted winter vegetables to include butternut, sweet potato, carrots and beetroot.

The Muratie Ruby Port; don't neglect the wonder of fortified wines this winter. Finish your evening with a selection of South Africa's finest cheeses and a luscious glass of heavenly port. A rich fruit explosion with lingering warmth, this Ruby Port from Muratie is an affordable buy worth indulging in.
Serving: A hard or soft cheese.
Port particularly loves stinky blues and matured hard cheddar or pecorino. Not a cheese fan? Pair it with rhubarb and raspberry crumble or a dark chocolate torte.