The 10 Best Warming Red Wines for Winter

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Festive wooden elf on snow with a mug of red wine

In the chill of winter, there may be no better feeling than warming your bones with a crackling fire and a rich glass of red wine. Why is it, though, that red wine is the perfect remedy for an icy winter night?

The answer is quite simple: red wine tends to have a higher alcohol content than its crisp cousin, the white wine. This creates a natural thermogenic effect, which warms the body from the inside out. Beyond this, red wine is best enjoyed at a warm room temperature, a quality that highlights its full flavor. Red wine also pairs with hearty meals, making it the perfect way to end a cold day. 

Red Wines for Winter

There are many choices of red wine to warm you up during the more glacial months of the year. To help pick a winner, consider the flavors and textures you crave most in the winter. Whether you choose a plummy Syrah or a deep Zinfandel, you can’t go wrong with these warming red wines, which will pair perfectly with a crisp winter night:

1. Pinot Noir

Always a classic choice, Pinot Noir is a delicate and nuanced wine. A bottle of this dry, medium-bodied wine, like the 2016 Westwood Pinot Noir is sure to provide a pleasant simmer from the inside out. A lovely Pinot Noir pairs well with poultry dishes, such as chicken or duck. 

2. Merlot

Merlot is one of the most beloved winter red wines, and for good reason. Bursting with red fruits and easy tannins, Merlot is the perfect choice for a simple and relaxed evening. Pair a bottle of classic Merlot, like this 2013 Twomey Merlot, with an easy bleu cheese chopped salad and light chicken dish for a breezy night in. Enjoy seasonal plum and cherry aromas and flavors in this full-bodied wine. 

3. Shiraz

You can think of Shiraz as a relative of Syrah, and one that hails from much warmer climates. This lush wine is boozy and boasts powerful black fruit and pepper notes. It is sure to warm you up quickly on even the most brisk of evenings. A bottle of  2018 Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz pairs well with peppery grilled meats and roasted potatoes for a hot, bold evening!

4. Cabernet Sauvignon

We would be remiss to neglect the classic choice of Cabernet Sauvignon to warm up a chilly day. A clear winner of the winter games, a soothing red like this 2018 Eisele Vineyard Pickett Cabernet Sauvignon is big and bold and perfect for snow season. Pair the distinct vanilla and tobacco aromas with a rich dish of pepper steak, potatoes, and vegetables before you bed down for a long winter’s nap. 

5. Grenache

The brightness of a Grenache is sure to lighten up any gray winter day. For example, this vibrant 2014 Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Pizarra brings the warmth of its home clime to you. The higher alcohol content provides a pleasant warming and pairs wells with just about any cold-weather meal. Try it with an eggplant parmesan or pesto dish.

6. Cinsault

Though it is often overlooked, Cinsault may soon become your new favorite red wine for winter. This medium-bodied wine does well in the hot and dry climate of South Africa and brings with it notes of spice and brambly red berries. A bottle of 2018 Sadie Family Pofadder Red is sure to lift your spirits. This bold, savory wine pairs well with rich, garlicky dishes like prawns or braised meats. Choose Cinsault for an adventurous winter’s eve. 

7. Petit Verdot

A bottle of vibrant purple Petit Verdot, like this 2015 B. Leighton Wines Olsen's Brothers Vineyard, is a beautiful choice for a wintertime libation. Petit Verdot is deep, with notes of blueberries and herbs. This elegant choice, with its fruity and floral flavors, can stand alone or act as the perfect partner to any rich winter dish, from cheese boards to spicy lamb or veal. 

8. Sangiovese

Classically earthy and relentlessly rustic, Sangiovese may come to mind as more of a summer wine. However, let this Italian variety warm your winter blues with its dark fruit and black cherry notes. A bottle of 2016 Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione pairs beautifully with a vegetarian or vegan dish with plenty of tomatoes and winter vegetables. 

9. Tempranillo

If you’re looking for a bold choice to spice up your solstice, a good Tempranillo offers a smooth finish with smoky undertones. Grab a bottle of 2015 San Vicente Rioja and pair it with a barbeque-based, smoky dish. If you’re looking for something unique to break up the winter nights, Tempranillo pairs well with spicy Mexican dishes — all of which are guaranteed to warm your soul faster than a summer afternoon. 

10. Zinfandel

Look no further than the full-bodied spice of a Zinfandel to complete your cozy winter night. A glass of 2016 Seghesio Zinfandel Old Vine is rich with seasonal notes like cinnamon, sweet spices, and berries. This wine pairs well with a lighter meat, like turkey — making it a lovely accompaniment to your next holiday meal. 

Find the Perfect Wine to Warm Up Your Winter

While summer has its refreshing rosés and whites, there is something deeply satisfying about ending a wintry night with the unmatched glow from a welcoming glass of red wine. 

When choosing a winter wine, reach for bold flavors that can keep up with your favorite winter dishes — but the warmth doesn’t have to end with dinner. Make the most of the cold season by finding a wine that pairs perfectly with your favorite cozy blanket and evening long read. 

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect warming wines, JJ Buckley can help you track down the right fit. No matter what red you’re craving to liven up the dead of winter, our knowledgeable consultants can help pair you with the perfect bottles of wine to meet your seasonal needs.

With an extensive selection of wines from around the world, JJ Buckley Fine Wines has the perfect winter libations to meet your wine cellar wants and needs.