The right food and drink can make winter’s wet, cold weather and long nights bearable – or with luck, even enjoyable! Winter brings the opportunity to indulge in rich, buttery foods and holiday sweets, and nothing pairs with these better than the right bottle of wine. The best winter wines tend to be full-bodied and complex to stand up to the season’s heavy food and cold weather.

The Best Red Wines for the Winter

For many, red wine is the obvious choice in the winter, since it tends to be fuller-bodied than white wines. Wines with more body pair well with the rich foods popular in cold weather. If you’re looking for great red wines to drink this winter, check out these big, bold reds:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: While it may not be surprising to see Cabernet Sauvignon on this list, this wine is popular for good reason! Cabernet Sauvignon is complex yet subtle and every vineyard’s Cab is unique, so find your favorite.
  • Nebbiolo: This wine is rich in tannins and high in acidity, making it the perfect partner for rich winter dishes. Some bottles of nebbiolo are relatively pale compared to other reds, but don’t be fooled! Nebbiolo wines are complex and gripping.
  • Sangiovese: This red wine is popular in the winter as its high-acid, high-tannin combination pairs well with hearty winter vegetables. 

The Best White Wines for the Winter

While some put away their white wine once winter sets in, certain white wines really compliment the season’s food and weather. But put the light, fruity whites away – the best white wines for cold weather are full-bodied and velvety, to pair with the rich, fatty foods we love so much in the winter. Try out these whites for the perfect drink before or during a winter dinner: 

  • Oaked Chardonnay: The top white wine for the winter is Chardonnay – but make sure you’re picking an oaked bottle. When it’s cold out, the oak aging process adds a rich, buttery flavor to the wine. This medium-bodied wine has warm, caramel flavors that compliment creamy winter pastas and soups.
  • Riesling: Riesling wine, especially from German winemakers, is the best white to pair with cheese and dessert. Rieslings range from very sweet to dry, so it’s easy to find a bottle to pair with whatever you’re serving. German Riesling grapes have a particularly bold, spicy aroma that makes them perfect for winter.

Fortified Wines Made for Cold-Weather

With winter weather comes the opportunity to indulge in rich drinks that would be too heavy at any other time of year. For a special after-dinner drink or nightcap, try one of these:

  • Port: Port is a type of fortified wine that warms the body in cold weather. A good port is the perfect drink for a celebratory toast around the fireplace or to pair with a rich dessert.
  • Sherry: A fortified wine made of white wine grapes, sherry is the perfect alternative to whiskey for a winter nightcap.

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