Winter Wine: Should You Buy Wine by Time of Year?

Like food, certain types of wine taste and feel better according to the season. A perfectly chilled Rosé or Pinot Grigio may be perfect for a festive summer meal on an outdoor patio or by the water, but once the cold weather sets in, you may prefer winter wine that is a little heartier to enjoy with a heavy winter meal by a fireplace (or internal home heating system).

But do you really have to align your wine consumption with the seasons?

Cold Weather Wines

In wine as in life, rules are made to be broken. If your heart longs for a light and bubbly Prosecco in the middle of July, by all means, go ahead and enjoy it. The heart wants what it wants, after all. But if you like to pair your wine with food or like to explore the best wines of the moment, drinking seasonally has many advantages.

When it comes to the best wines to enjoy in winter, reds are an obvious choice, because heavier wines pair so well with most meat dishes and foods that are more popular in winter. Some of the usual suspects include:

  • Zinfandel
  • Bordeaux
  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Rioja
  • Barolo
  • Sangiovese

But what about that sparkling Prosecco? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to store the whites away for the return of warm spring and summer weather. If you are a stickler for rules and order but still want to enjoy white wine in the winter, an oaked Chardonnay or sparkling is your best bet. Try full-bodied whites if you are looking for an alternative to reds for pairing with your favourite winter dish or stew.

Autumn Wines: The Perfect Way to Transition Into Winter Wine Drinking (Or Maintain a Bridge to Summer)

Even with perfect planning for seasonal drinking on your part, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Winters can be unseasonably warm or longer/shorter than expected, and the calendar may say June but the temperature feel like December. In a global twist of irony, some of the best winter varietals come from countries with hotter climates, like Australia, South America and southern Europe.

Or if you just can’t let go of your favourite warm weather wines to embrace the Malbec or Shiraz, a medium-bodied fall red is the perfect compromise to help ease the transition.

Common autumn wines include:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Medium red blends
  • Sparkling wine
  • Viognier

Wine Temperature

Unless you’re drinking something like a mulled wine, a cold-weather drink by virtue of the fact that is served and enjoyed heated — which would make it difficult to enjoy in the summer — there are no hard and fast rules dictating when you can and should drink your favourite type of wine. Just keep in mind that certain wines are best enjoyed at a specific temperature regardless of the weather. Typical summer wines are best enjoyed chilled, and a traditional winter wine is best enjoyed at normal room temperature. If you frequently dine out, you will find that many restaurants offer seasonal wine menus that are complementary to the food. Think of it as the “eat local” iteration of wine drinking.

Ask a Sommelier

You don’t have to be (or have personal access to) a sommelier to find great wine to enjoy all year long. Learn more about our wine club subscriptions and let us bring your favourite bottles to you!

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