Best wines to beat the winter chill

When the mercury plummets, it just stands to reason that a perfect evening would include staying indoors curled up in front of the fire, preferably with a companion (furry or otherwise) by your side and a glass of wine in your hand. But unlike the fruity, floral Viognier you sipped lakeside at last summer’s yacht cruise, when the snow is piling up outside you are probably looking for something much more full-bodied to sip. Read on and fortify your body, mind and spirit with one of our top wine picks for winter.

The magic of a robust red cannot be denied

While champagne is always appropriate for christening a new building and Muscadet is a must when slurping oysters on the half-shell, there’s something about a robust red that just goes hand in hand with winter. Perhaps the freezing temperatures make us a little more resilient to alcohol content, because we seem to consume fewer light-bodied reds and rosés in favour of heavier wines. While there’s no need to drink something you really don’t like just as a nod to Old Man Winter, many do take the below-zero temperatures as a welcome signal that the days of Shiraz are upon us again.

Here are our top picks for red wines to warm you this winter:

  • Zinfandel: Zinfandel is a popular grape variety that originated in Croatia but is now grown in California. Zinfandel typically produces a powerful, spicy wine. Try: Robert Biale Winery, 2014 (multiple vintages)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: “I love a full-bodied Cabernet in the winter,” says Paul Karolidis, Mississauga-based entrepreneur, professor and wine enthusiast who regularly bids on exclusive wines. “There’s nothing like it.” Try: A dense, pure and heady Von Strasser 2009 Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, rated by the Wine Enthusiast Network as ‘So enormously delicious, it will be hard to keep from drinking right away.’
  • Malbec: Only recently emerged as an extremely popular red wine in North America, you can’t really go wrong with Malbec; its easy-to-drink qualities originally caused it to be used as a blending grape in French Bordeaux before it was discovered that these delicate grapes thrived best in an entirely different climate – Argentina. By far the most economical wine on this list. Try: Renacer Punto Final Clasico Malbec, 2015.
  • Shiraz: Syrah du Monde® 2016 was one of last year’s top events for shiraz wines, bringing together 23 countries and a host of international experts who tasted 374 Syrah/Shiraz wines. And the winner was…well, that’s not quite how the competition works, but South African wines swept the gold medals. Try: Simonsig Syrah Merindol 2008.

Still…other vintages cannot be ruled out

It just isn’t possible for many wine connoisseurs to confine their tastes to reds all winter long, especially in countries like Canada where winter really seems to drag on forever. For a change of pace in colder months, try fuller-bodied whites like oaked Chardonnays and Reislings. Both pair well with winter comfort food like chicken cordon bleu. Or, try a rich port or sweet wine to enjoy after dessert with a selection of cheeses, nuts or fruit. May your palate move you!


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