When blustery weather sets in, it’s time to reach for the wines of winter. Granted, you can drink any wine in any season—it’s your wine. But when the weather coarsens, we tend to turn to heartier, more filling fare, so it makes sense to sip bigger, more robust wines. Here are a handful of bottles worth uncorking this snowy season—and food pairings to accompany them.
Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($9.99) is a terrific bang-for-the-buck wine and one that is especially tasty with grilled meats. This California cab is dark and decadent and designed by winemaker Bryce Willingham to “push your sensory limits to the edge.” Aged in French oak, it boasts rich vanilla and mocha flavors along with dark berries that would be great paired with cabernet-braised beef short ribs.
One of my favorite affordable pinots of late has been Hess Select 2016 Pinot Noir Central Coast ($19.95). This is a seductive wine with velvety tannins, bright raspberry and sweet spice aromas, followed by flavors of ripe plum and floral notes on the palate. Pair it with classic pinot-friendly foods like salmon or mushroom dishes.
Cru Bourgeois wines from France’s Médoc region are usually great bargains, offering delicious Bordeaux flavors without the high-end Cru Bordeaux prices. A good example is Château Greysac 2012 ($24.99). Produced mostly from merlot and cabernet, this complex wine abounds with red berry flavors, along with spice and bell pepper notes. It plays well with charcuterie and simple bistro-style dishes such as steak frites.
This last “winter” wine might surprise you. But I make sure my wine fridge is stocked with sparkling wine all year round. 2016 Conundrum Sparkling Rosé ($22.99) is a dry (not sweet) bottle of bubbly made from pinot blanc, pinot gris, viognier, and Muscat-Canelli. It’s a very food-friendly wine that partners nicely with a range of fare from smoked salmon to prosciutto and maybe best of all, popcorn enjoyed next to a crackling fire.
Ever had an Argentine wine by way of Napa? Red Schooner Voyage 5 ($49.99) is a malbec made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains of Argentina. The chilled grapes are shipped to Napa Valley, where Caymus winemakers create a powerful wine with ripe cherry and plum flavors along with hints of French oak. Red Schooner would be a perfect partner for a hearty, winter cassoulet or a thick, juicy steak.