Well, it’s that time of year again. The sleeves get longer, the meals get heartier, and the wines get a little deeper, darker and more intense.
Gone are bright, breezy, feather-light whites and soft, fruity rosé wines of summer… winter is all about drinking experiences which coddle you in warming, comforting flavours and textures - a bit of dark fruit, a bit of spice and savouriness, and plenty of decadent aromatics.
While summer wines are all about crispness, lightness, and flavours which fit well with outdoor drinking with your mates, winter wines are a far more reflective affair. They are suited to drinking indoors - around an open fire if you can find one - with your nearest and dearest, or during the kind of big, heavy dinners you couldn’t face during the hotter months.
If summer wines are a fresh, grassy garden, then winter wines are a warm, cosy study, complete with cracked leather upholstery and the lingering smell of pipe smoke.
These kinds of wines are our favourite thing about this time of year. You can indulge yourself a little more than usual: eat hearty, rib-sticking dinners, accompanied by the kind of wines which lull you gently into a warm, foggy stupor.
But which are the best wines to reach for as the days grow shorter and the sun shines less brightly? We’ve put together a brief list to help you through those cold winter nights - enjoy!
An obvious choice? Maybe, but it’s one which can’t be overlooked. Make no mistake about it, modern Australian Shiraz is a fantastic winter wine, which ticks all the necessary boxes to see you through many a long, chilly evening.
Spicy and earthy, and full of deep, dark fruit flavour, it’s like a blanket in a bottle. Best drank with some deep conversation with an old mate, safe indoors and away from the weather.
It gets the occasional bad rap, but a good Zinfandel is a fantastic winter red wine. Full bodied and as rich as they come, a top quality Zinfandel from somewhere like Napa Valley really hits the spot with its trademark spiciness and punchy power, and will definitely keep the winter blues at bay.
Not the most obvious of selections, but well deserving of its place on this list, the Corvina grape is an Italian classic, and the powerhouse behind the beautiful Amarone and Valpolicella wines which make this country such a winner.
Corvina wines tend to be very full bodied, almost raisiny, with a higher than average alcohol content (which definitely hits the spot in midwinter), and yet maintain an elegance which makes them totally irresistible.
For a grape which is so deeply associated with sunny Spain, it seems a little odd to stick it on a list of winter wines. Hear us out.
Firstly, Tempranillo wines tend to have that gorgeous earthiness that lends itself so well to winter drinking.
Secondly, who can resist all that dark spice and intense fruit on a cold day?
Thirdly, the classic food pairings for Tempranillo - deep, flavourful, spicy meat stews, hunks of roasted red meat, and heavy bean-rich dishes dyed red with paprika - are exactly the kind of meals that make winter bearable.
Whether blended in a classic McLaren Vale GSM mix, or part of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape or other Rhone Valley blend, Grenache is a fantastic winter grape varietal. It’s juicy, full-bodied, high in alcohol content, full of fruit and spice notes, and few wines pair better with a big roast chicken dinner to share with the family.
Those zesty, light-bodied white wines aren’t even going to touch the sides during the coldest weeks of the year, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on white wines completely. In fact, a full bodied Chardonnay can really hit the spot at this time of year - even the slightly more oaky numbers that seem so out of place in the summer.
The other big hitter of the white wine world is Viognier, a personal favourite of mine, and a go-to wine when you’re looking for something luxurious and decadent to laze around the house with.
The intense floral aromatics of Viognier are always a real delight, and those comforting flavours of soft fruit, apples and pears are ideal over a game of scrabble, when the weather’s so bad you keep the curtains drawn all day.
Now that we've got your wines perfect for this time of year covered, it's time to find out which of these wines made the cut and pair best with your personal wine profile! Click here: to started on our wine profile quiz and match your personal tastes to the three bottles we think you'll love most.