The hustle and bustle of the holidays have come to an end, and it’s time to relax. We’re well into winter
now, and the wine I’m drinking in the frosty weather has transitioned to fuller-bodied reds with
warming fruit character.

DeLoach Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2016

LangeTwins Single Vineyard Estate Jahant Lodi Petite Sirah 2017

I don’t often drink red wine without food. I usually enjoy a glass of red alongside dinner or even a charcuterie board. On a chilly January night, though, a fruity red wine low in tanning envelopes me like a
blanket. Think grapes like Zinfandel or Malbec or Petit Sirah – fruit-driven wines that are low in acidity and tannin. The two reds below are delicious on their own, and can be sipped almost in the way you
would enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea.

Just as the style of food you’re eating changes with the season, so should your wine. Winter calls for heartier dishes, and heartier dishes call for bigger wines.

When pairing wine with food, keep in mind the fat content of a dish. Tannin and fat go hand in hand. Why is a Cabernet Sauvignon thought of as a perfect pairing with a ribeye? The tannin in the Cabernet Sauvignon wipes away the fat on the tongue after a delicious bite, effectively cleansing the palate for another delicious bite.

If a roast of lamb is the main dish, however, the fat content is not quite as high and you’ll also find more accompanying herbs and spices. In this case, you’ll want to choose a wine with less tanning, while also thinking about the flavor profile of the wine and how it might match the dish you’ve chosen. For example, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape may elevate this dish nicely by adding flavors of Herbs de Provence to the equation in addition to dark purple fruit, complimenting the herbs in the lamb.

Andre Brunel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Cuvee Centenaire Red Rhone Blend 2015

Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017

I know in the winter, I often look to soups and stews to keep me warm. Again, putting some thought into fruit character and spices can go a long way in pairing. One of my favorite pairings, for example, is a pot of heart-warming chili with a Napa Valley Merlot. The plush fruit of the Merlot elevates the developed spices in the chili while adding a layer of dark fruit and chocolate.

But, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean white wine must be banished from the table. Look to fuller-bodied white wines to match the heartier flavors of winter dishes. A butternut squash soup and a slightly buttery Chardonnay make a beautiful pair.

Often, we get used to buying the same “go-to” wines. Use this winter season to play around with some grape varieties you haven’t tried before and to broaden your horizons. Happy pairing—and have fun! Cheers!

About the Author

Allyson Gorsuch is Young’s Market Company’s Wine Educator for West LA. She feels fortunate to have a role that allows her to enjoy all her favorite aspects of the business – wine, writing, and teaching. She grew up in St. Louis, spent several years in Sonoma County, and now calls Los Angeles home. She’s been running wine and beverage programs for years, and enjoys travelling and exploring different cultures in her free time.