In the cold and damp of winter weather, you want hearty wines that will warm your insides and hold up to the rich dishes that come with the season. The wines you choose to consume during the winter can be big, bold, and spicy reds; creamy, toasty, full-bodied whites; warming fortified wines; sweet dessert wines; or lush, celebratory sparkling wines.
With its bold, spicy, and jammy flavors, Zinfandel holds up to hearty, warming foods, and its high alcoholic kick makes it the perfect red to sip when you snuggle up on a cold winter's night. Try a classic Sonoma County Zinfandel, or opt for a rustic Italian-style Primitivo.
Two Zinfandels to Try
Ridge Zinfandel Lytton Springs is a top-rated Zinfandel from Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. For about $36 per bottle, you'll have a lush and aromatic Zinfandel that's a perfect accompaniment to a hearty winter chili.
With its powerful tannins and high acidity, wines made from the Nebbiolo grape are perfect with fatty, rich winter foods. Wines made with the Nebbiolo grape include Barolo, "The King of Wines and the Wine of Kings," and Barbaresco, as well as wines labeled as the varietal.
Two Nebbiolo Wines to Try
- Aldo Conterno Barolo Colonello is a high-end Barolo with flavors of dark fruits, spice, and tobacco. It costs around $200 per bottle, so it's a great special occasion wine; try it with your celebratory holiday prime rib.
Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano costs around $60 per bottle, and it's a subtle and delicious Barbaresco with flavors of cherry and blackberry jam. Try it with a hearty winter dish such as beef stroganoff or mushroom risotto.
From France's Rhône region, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an earthy, spicy, nuanced hearty wine that pairs well with winter foods. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made from a blend of grapes from the Rhône region, with the predominate grape in the blend being Grenache. These wines may also include Syrah and Mourvèdre, and they have deep, meaty, smoky flavors.
Two Delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wines
Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée contains 80 percent Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, and about 10 percent of other varietals blended in. It costs around $100 per bottle but it's filled with smoky, meaty, herbal flavors that make it the perfect pairing for winter dishes such as Beef Wellington or roast venison.
E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape costs around $50, but it's a balanced wine with flavors of berries, spice, and plums. Try it with duck with fig sauce or as an accompaniment to your Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.
4. Tawny Port
Two Tawny Port-Style Wines
- Fonseca 20 Year Tawny Porto from Portugal is a warm and complex non-vintage tawny that costs around $50 per bottle. Try it with a slice of pumpkin pie.
- Penfold's Club Tawny Port comes from Down Under (Australia to be exact), but it's a delicious, warm, and affordable port-style wine that costs under $15 per bottle. Try it with bread pudding.
5. Oaked Chardonnay
Oak brings toasty, warm flavors to Chardonnay such as burnt sugar, vanilla, and spice. Judiciously oaked Chardonnay wines make a perfect winter white with a medium body and plenty of warm, toasted, buttery characteristics.
Two Oaky Chardonnays
Domaine Belland Puligny-Montrachet is an oaked Chardonnay (it's a white Burgundy) made using malolactic fermentation, which adds buttery flavors to the wine. It works especially well with foods that have buttery sauces, such as fettuccine Alfredo or halibut beurre blanc.
Domaine Serene Evenstad Dundee Hills Chardonnay Reserve is a buttery Chardonnay from Oregon's Willamette Valley. It's loaded with apple and vanilla flavors that make it a perfect pairing for pork chops.
6. German Riesling
If you've never tried a Riesling from Germany, it's a revelation. German Rieslings are acidic and zippy with spicy flavors and aromas. Riesling is a cool weather grape that makes delicious winter wines that pair well with a number of foods. The wines range from dry to very sweet, so you can pair them with different types of food. Because of the wine's versatility, it's especially good with Thanksgiving dinner.
Two German Riesling Wines to Try
- Joh Jos Prüm Riesling Auslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a sweet Riesling with a backbone of acidity that provides balance. It costs around $110 per bottle, so it's a good special occasion German Riesling. Serve with rich foods, such as foie gras or terrine.
Dr. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor Kabinett Riesling costs around $40 per bottle. It's dry and aromatic with mineral notes. Try it with spicy Thai food or curry.
7. Champagne or Sparkling Wine
What's a list of winter wines without a celebratory bubbly tossed in? Whether you choose French Champagne or its sparkling wine counterparts from around the world, toasty Champagne is a bubbly treat whenever you want to celebrate.
Two Sparkling Wines
Henriot Brut Blanc de Blancs is a non-vintage dry Champagne made from 100 percent Chardonnay costing around $60. It's toasty and spicy flavors make it the perfect accompaniment for dishes with cream sauces or roast chicken.
Argyle Extended Tirage vintage sparkling wine comes from Oregon's Willamette Valley. It's a dry, sparkling blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in the traditional méthode champenoise, and it costs around $60 per bottle. Try it with lobster with butter sauce or a creamy lobster bisque.
Warming Winter Wines
These are just a few of the many hearty wines to warm you up during the winter months. Whether you want a wine for Christmas dinner, a sparkling wine for the New Year, or something to drink when you curl up by the fire with a good book, there are plenty of wines that will chase away the winter chill.