As December 2023 approaches, nothing beats curling up by the fireplace with a glass of your favorite wine. Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply unwinding after a hard day, a glass of wine can help you relax and brighten the mood. In this article, let’s explore five outstanding wines that are ideal for enjoying by the fireplace in the winter, for you to sip on its own or pair with hearty winter dishes.

Drinking a glass of wine by the fireplace with loved ones (Photo: Sergei Solo,

  1. Napa Valley Merlot

Napa Valley is renowned for its top-quality Bordeaux blend wines. Despite living in the shadows of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot has so much to offer. Napa Valley Merlot is typically blended with a small percentage of other Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, to add more structure and complexity, with a medium to full body and a smooth, velvety texture. Think of it as a fruitier version of Pomerol, with notes of black cherry, plum, vanilla and dark chocolate.

Napa Valley Merlot's rich, fruit-forward characters and smooth texture make it an excellent choice for winter evenings by the fireplace. Its warmth and depth add to the cozy ambiance, making it an ideal companion for cold winter nights.

Shafer Merlot

  1. Hermitage

Originating from the steep vineyards in the Northern Rhône region of France, Hermitage is known for producing one of the best red wines from the Syrah grape. Hermitage wines are bold and robust, with a complex and rich character, and often have a firm structure, making them excellent for aging. As a pure expression of Syrah, Hermitage wines are filled with intense flavors of blackberries, plums, spices, smoked meat, and earthy notes with a chewy texture.

Hermitage wines are like a warm, comforting hug in a glass. Their depth and complexity reveal with time, making them perfect for savoring slowly by the fireplace. The rich, dark fruit flavors and smoky undertones create a soothing and inviting experience.

  1. Priorat

If we name the iconic wine regions for Grenache, Priorat is definitely on the list. Located in Catalonia, Spain, Priorat is celebrated for its rich and powerful red wines made primarily from the Grenache (locally known as Garnatxa or Garnacha) and Carignan (locally known as Samsó or Cariñena) grapes. Priorat wines are full-bodied and known for their concentration, intense flavors, and well-defined tannins, thanks to the heritage of old vines. Expect flavors of dark berries, plum, licorice, dried herbs, and toasted oak notes in Priorat wines.

Priorat wines are the epitome of bold and expressive. Their robust nature makes them a great choice for hearty winter meals. The combination of dark fruit and earthy flavors, along with a touch of spice, creates a wine that warms the soul and pairs wonderfully with the fireplace's crackling warmth.

  1. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

The name Montepulciano can create confusion sometimes: it’s the village name in Tuscany, famous for the Vino Nobile made from Sangiovese, and it’s the signature grape from the Abruzzo region in central Italy.  Entry-level Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines are generally medium-bodied with a juicy acidiy, robust tannins and easy-drinking style, however, in reality, there is a wide range of styles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo offers flavors of ripe red and black fruits, such as cherries and blackberries, along with hints of herbs and spices, they can be smooth and jammy, or robust and structured, but either way, they are delightful and approachable.

If you're looking for a wine that's both delicious and uncomplicated, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the one. Its drinkability and vibrant fruitiness make it a great choice for casual fireside gatherings during the winter months.

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

  1. Douro Red

Aside from the world-renowned Port wines, the picturesque Douro region in Portugal is famed for its robust, rustic red wines made from a blend of indigenous grape varieties, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz (also known as Tempranillo). Douro Red wines are rich, full-bodied, and often have a complex structure with excellent aging potential. Douro red features a mix of dark fruit flavors, such as blackcurrant and black cherry, as well as notes of violets, herbs, and a touch of spice.

Douro red wines are like a warm greeting from the Iberian Peninsula. The combination of dark fruit, floral, and spicy notes makes them a great choice for sipping by the fireplace on chilly winter nights with your favorite movie.

Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Douro

What’s the perfect winter wine?

When it comes to enjoying wine by the fire in the winter, these five options provide a varied range of possibilities to fit a variety of tastes and occasions. Whether you're in the mood for a velvety Napa Valley Merlot, a rich Hermitage, a complex Priorat, a friendly Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, or a robust Douro Red, there's something for everyone.  Pour yourself a glass as the snow falls and the fire crackles.

Sylvia Ba

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