While we’re big advocates of the idea that there’s no need to confine certain styles of wines to particular seasons, there’s no denying that few things go together as well as a chilly winter’s evening and a bold, flavorful red. Particularly reds that feature flavors of warm spices, aromas reminiscent of toast and leather, and rich, dark fruits.
Here are a few of our favorite regions and styles for wines that are the perfect pairing for a night by the fire pit or snuggled up under a blanket.
While more and more wine drinkers have been discovering the quality and value of Portuguese wines, the country still flies just far enough under the radar to maintain an exceptionally good quality-to-price ratio. Portugal excels at making wines that manage to be both bold and nimble.
A Touriga Vai Nua from Fitapreta demonstrates this with great flair. Featuring the king of Portuguese red grapes, Touriga Naçional (the primary grape used in Port), the wine is plush and luscious without being overly weighty.
Both fresh and dried blackberry, boysenberry, black plums and blueberries dominate, with slate-like minerality and a pleasing hint of black pepper. Farmed organically and fermented with native yeasts. $25.99; Available at Krog & West End
Spain - Rioja
Spain's Rioja region produces what might be the quintessential warming red wine. The traditional approach in the region makes heavy use of oak aging, adding layers of aromatics and flavors like vanilla, smoke, leather, tobacco, clove, cinnamon, and more.
Viña Bosconia Reserva - $39.99; Krog
Paisajes Embotellados Garnacha - $26.99; Krog
Lopez de Heredia is the benchmark producer in the region, producing wines in a classic style that continually reveal incredible complexity. Using traditional techniques and making ample use of barrel aging, the wines showcase both extraordinarily deep fruit flavors and the impact of multiple years in barrel, with tobacco, vanilla and mulling spices taking center stage. The Viña Bosconia Reserva presents an excellent introduction to one of Spain’s most sought-after wineries.
Most Rioja showcases the Tempranillo grape, but the Paisajes Embotellados Garnacha presents a delightful twist on the standard Rioja template. Produced by Vindedos Ruiz Jimenez from organic fruit and fermented in French-oak barriques, this Rioja is both strikingly different from other Riojas while still very much of the region. The fruit is more red and bright, with a heartier dose of clove and cinnamon. Echos of classic Rioja come to the fore through the influence of the long barrel-aging, with wisps of smoke, dried herbs, and fallen leaves.
Italy - Aglianico
Piedmont’s Nebbiolo (the grape featured in Barolo and Barbaresco) and Sangiovese (the star of Tuscany’s Brunello and Chianti) may get all the fame, but southern Italy quietly goes about its business making wines of equal complexity and elegance with the Aglianico grape.
San Martino “Arberesko” Aglianico del Vulture is grown at high elevation, allowing the fruit ample time to ripen and develop complexity.
Organically farmed, the Arbaresko features hand-harvested fruit from 40-60 year-old vines. It's aged in multiple types of barrels, and bottled without filtration, yielding complex aromatics and flavors of cherry sauce, balsamic vinegar, blackberries, and warming hints of smoke and dried herbs. Ready to drink now, but well capable of developing over the next several years. $35.99; Available at Krog