Betty's Wine Musings

What Makes a Great Winter Wine?

It’s raining in California, all week! Woo hoo! That means it’s time to think about winter wine. I looked up what makes a great winter wine and found a ton of good information. I’m excited to share what I learned in this article.


Winter Wine – courtesy of

Two Things to Think About When Looking for Winter Wine

You want wines that have a warming quality. On the red side, that translates into mouth-hugging tannins and heartiness. On the white side, warmth means oakiness. ChiefWineOfficer says that an oaked Chardonnay “has a distinguished, sweet yet spicy, buttery yet toasty profile. Even just describing these flavours gives you a fuzzy wintery feeling inside.”

You want wines that pair well with the heavier dishes you serve in the winter. Hearty red wines hold up to the rich dishes that come with the season. White wines that are high in acidity likewise stand up to the heavier foods of winter. Sparkling wine is also perfect, because it pairs well with most foods and brings festivity to the table.

LovetoKnow says it best: “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.”

Red Wine Recommendations

There are tons of top 10 types of lists of winter wines. I will share some of my favorites here. A number of these are from LovetoKnow and Wine Folly.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: This full-bodied red wine’s dark fruit flavors and tannins make it a perfect winter wine.
  • Zinfandel: Its bold, spicy, and jammy flavors hold 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.
  • Nebbiolo: Its powerful tannins and high acidity make it the perfect wine for fatty, rich winter foods.
  • Rhone blends of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache have deep, meaty, smoky flavors.
  • Shiraz: Wine Folly describes this wine as “big, brooding and boozy.”
  • Sangiovese: Earthy and rustic, it goes with all kinds of winter eats and even vegetarian fare.
  • Port: This dessert wine is deliciously warming.

White Wine Recommendations

  • Oaked Chardonnay: The warm, toasted, buttery notes of this wine make it perfect for winter.
  • German Riesling: These wines are acidic and zippy with spicy flavors and aromas. They pair beautifully with heavier winter dishes.
  • Chenin Blanc: Although it’s light-bodied, this variety is very high in acidity and lifts heavy winter foods. 
  • Viognier: This wine’s weight is similar to Chardonnay’s, and the variety is bold and creamy and can stand up to some of the densest foods.
  • Sparkling Wine: What’s a list of winter wines without a celebratory bubbly tossed in? 

Please share your favorite winter wines here. Thanks. Cheers to a warmth-filled WINEderful winter.

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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