The 12 Best Wines for Winter

winter wines

Winter is coming. It’s time to cozy up with a warm sweater and one of these 12 best winter wines.

What makes a great winter wine? Some have notes of baking spices to go with the scents wafting out of your oven, but the main thing is that these wines have a warming quality that will help to keep out the chill. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can only drink red wine this season. There are a number of white wines – both light and medium-bodied – that are excellent this time of year. 

Winter is also the perfect time to try a new varietal. Why? First, there are just so many to try. And while you may be turning to your favorite recipes for comfort this time of year, nothing can elevate an old favorite like a new bottle of wine.

So, check out the top 12 winter wine varietals, including red and white wines, beloved classics and well-kept secrets – along with seasonal food pairings.

Want to learn about your wine preferences? Take our quick wine quiz, and get matched with wine you’ll love!

1. Chardonnay

Great news, Chardonnay lovers – Now is the time to whip out a bottle of oaked Chardonnay. Full-bodied and complex, Chardonnay is known for its ripe fruit notes of melon and pineapple. This time of year, Chardonnay is perfect alongside baked halibut, creamy pasta, and corn chowder.

dog with santa hat sleeping with wine - winter wines

2. Cabernet Sauvignon

No surprise here – full-bodied red wines are in season and Cabernet is a popular choice. With dark fruit flavors, mouth-hugging tannins, and a hint of cinnamon, Cabernet pairs well with winter dinners and movie nights. Enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon with short ribs, portobello mushrooms, and lentil soup.

Winter wines folk & fable cabernet sauvignon
Bright Cellars Folk & Fable Cabernet Sauvignon

Bright Cellars’ Folk & Fable Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine for sipping by the fire! This lush and juicy Cab has been aged in bourbon barrels for three months, giving it a warm, toasty finish that pairs well with any winter evening. You’ll notice notes of warm vanilla, caramel, and baking spices. 

 elevated tannins, acidity, and complexity. You’ll taste notes of raspberry, plum, cocoa, dried flowers, and leather.

3. Viognier 

When you’re looking to switch up your red wine, try a white! Pronounced vee-own-YAY, this medium-bodied white wine is perfect for winter. If you like Chardonnay, Viognier should absolutely be on your radar. Rich and creamy, Viognier is known for its ripe fruit notes of peach and apricot, plus a hint of ginger. This white pairs well with herb-roasted chicken, pad Thai, and pumpkin risotto.

Winter wines Wellfleet Viognier
Bright Cellars Wellfleet Viognier

If you’re looking for a rich, opulent Viognier, we recommend our Wellfleet Viognier. Well-balanced and fruit-forward, you’ll notice aromas of floral orange blossom and rose, along with juicy peach, tangerine, and guava.


4. Malbec

If you enjoy bold red wines like Cabernet, Malbec should be next on your list. With intense fruit notes of plum and black cherry, silky tannins, and a hint of chocolate, this rich red is perfect in the winter. Malbec pairs well with grilled steak with chimichurri and roasted root veggies.

winter wines InduluMalbec
Bright Cellars Indulu Malbec

We love to sip on the Bright Cellars’ Indulu Malbec! This wine hails from Southern Cape, South Africa, and shows ripe aromas of blueberry and black raspberry with plum and cherry notes on the palate. Its gorgeous deep magenta hue is unmistakable.

5. Roussanne

This medium-bodied white wine is often blended with Viognier and other white wine grapes in the Rhône Valley region of France. These days, however, it’s not uncommon to find Roussanne on its own. With warm notes of apricot and brioche, plus a hint of herbal tea, Roussanne pairs well with shellfish, creamy polenta, or roast pork.

holiday celebration - winter wines

6. Shiraz

Bold and jammy, Shiraz is officially in season. With powerful dark fruit notes and hints of savory black olive, this smooth red wine is perfect for cozy nights by the fire or alongside dinner. Shiraz pairs well with barbecue, herb-roasted potatoes, and sauteed mushrooms. 

7. Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo grapes are popular in Italy, and make some excellent bold red wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. With intense fruit flavors, a hint of spice and licorice, and bright acidity, Nebbiolo is easy to pair with food. Enjoy this medium-bodied red with just about any kind of Italian dish, prime rib, and butternut squash ravioli. 

8. Riesling

When it comes to winter wines, a wine from a cool-climate region like Germany certainly fits the bill. Riesling is popular for its notes of bright citrus and tart green apple. Ranging from bone-dry to sweet, this light-bodied white wine pairs well with winter favorites like sausage, mashed potatoes, and spicy curries.

Bright Cellars' Sunshower Riesling
Sunshower Riesling from Bright Cellars

For this winter wine go with a glass of Sunshower Riesling! This brightly acidic wine has flavor notes of ripe tangerine, pear, and lychee alongside notes of florals. Its semi-sweetness balancing out the acidity. 

9. Montepulciano

You may not have heard of it, but if you like bold red wines like Cabernet, Syrah, or Chianti, you should definitely give Montepulciano a shot – and now is the time to try it. This medium-bodied red wine (pronounced mon-ta-pull-chee-ah-no) is known for its complex fruit notes of red plum and blackberry, hints of dried herbs and spice, and a smoky-sweet finish. This winter red pairs well with pizza, smoked sausage, and black bean burgers.

winter wines

10. Gewürztraminer

This medium-bodied white wine is perfect for winter. With aromatic notes of lychee, rose water, and spices like ginger and cinnamon, Gewürztraminer pairs well with pumpkin gnocchi, spicy noodles, and apple streusel.

11. Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Another red wine to broaden your horizons this season is Châteauneuf-du-Pape – a French wine with rich fruit flavors of raspberry and plum. Châteauneuf-du-Pape (pronounced shat-toe-nuff-due-pap) is a red blend made with Grenache and a variety of other grapes, giving it complex notes of herbs, mocha, and hoisin sauce. This full-bodied red pairs well with chili, beef stew, and roasted cauliflower. 

12. Zinfandel 

Jammy with notes of spice, Zinfandel is a great choice for any winter gathering. This medium-bodied red wine has notes of blackberry and stewed strawberry, plus hints of cinnamon and sweet tobacco leaves. Pair this popular red wine with beef barley soup, spiral ham, or lasagna. 

bright cellars worst evils zinfandel
Bright Cellars Worst Evils Zinfandel

Our favorite Zinfandel to fight through winter with is the Worst Evils Zinfandel. This Zin hails from the prestigious Dry Creek Valley AVA. The premium wine has flavor notes of jammy red berries complemented by vanilla, smoke, and spice. 

In Vino Finito

Stay warm this winter with red and white winter wines. Need a recommendation of a wine to try next? Email us and we can help.

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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