It's winter, and if there was ever a perfect time to drink wine, it's now. Granted, wine is appropriate year-round, but it is especially appealing in cold weather. Though wine aficionados already know they like to drink wine in the winter, they don't alway know which wine to sip on. These tips on choosing the best winter wines should help with that decision.
How to Choose Wine for the Winter
Researchers have noticed that as the winter holidays approach, wine sales spike and beer sales dip slightly. So people looking to buy more wine during the winter certainly aren't alone. Red wine in particular tends to be popular.
The main reason for this is that people tend to eat heartier foods with stronger flavors--such as chili or beef stew--when it's cold. That means they need an equally flavorful wine to pair with their food, and it's easier to find bold reds than whites. That being said, it's still possible to buy white wine that just feels right in the winter, which is why we're happy to recommend a few types of red and white wine.
Which Reds Are Best in Winter?
Wine drinkers can't go wrong with a red this winter. These are some of the top options:
- Bordeaux Blends - these include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends with maybe a bit of Malbec thrown in! With heartier flavors you can get dark fruits, secondary flavors like vanilla, coffee, or caramel and work really well in the winter. You can obviously find these wines from Bordeaux, but most of the world is making their own version of these grapes and we recommend trying them all!
Rhone Blends - Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend perfectly and create all kinds of combos that can be as heavy as a Châteauneuf du Pape or lighter like what is coming out of Columbia Valley in Washington state. With spicy notes from the Syrah, they can be great crowd pleasers with heavy meats or sauces like a winter stew!
Northern Italian Wines - Nebbiolo and Valpolicella, while COMPLETELY different styles of wine both have their place on the dinner table during the winter. With Barolos, Langhes, and Babarescos being the most famous of the Nebbiolos, the bold tannins pair well with meats, heavy dairy, and spices. Valpolicella takes a different turn with slightly raisinated grapes that can give some residual sugar and heavier body to the wine. It can work with pasta dishes very well and even a fatty fish.
What Whites Can Stand Up to the Cold Weather?
White wine can be just as bold and noteworthy as red wine, making it an ideal winter drink. The following are some good whites for winter:
Chardonnay - can be very full-bodied and has often been aged in oak. It pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes and clam chowder, both popular winter foods.
Riesling - is another great winter wine. While it tends to be sweet and somewhat fruity, the older wines usually develop hints of smoke and honey over time. The German and French varieties are especially appealing.
Chenin - which is becoming increasingly popular with somms, is a great pick for winter with enough body to combat something like a Moroccan tajine dish or pork chops. The slightly waxy finish can do a lot for these dishes.
Winter is the time to try all the wines you were skeptical of, is maybe a bit heavier than what you're used to drinking, or is just generally outside the box. These are all easy to find grapes that should be at any store. If you're looking for funkier ones, head over to our producer page and some of our other blogs, like our profile on Slovak wine, to see other kinds that are equally delicious but trickier to track down!