What to Eat with Red Wine: 4 Great Pairings

Your quick food and red wine pairings guide for winter

Sure, snow was cute during the holiday season, but now it’s that time we head towards the end of January. The month where we trade the twinkling Christmas lights for the winter blues. Since Spring is still far away, we are stuck waiting for the grey skies and short days to go away. During this time of year, it’s natural that we crave comfort dishes and full-bodied, warming reds to keep us cozy and warm until the temperatures rise again, there’s no better time to enjoy red wine pairings than during the cold, winter months.

Why Red Wine in the Winter?

Let’s start by saying that there are some great white wine options out there that one could happily sip on during the winter months, but most of the time when we think about a big, bold wine that will blanket our palate and bring some comfort, it’s the red wine that comes to mind! This could be because red wine tends to have a higher alcohol content than white wine, creating a natural effect that warms the body from the inside out. Additionally, red wine tends to impart more decadent flavor aromas that remind us of those winter aromas that would 

Red Wine Pairings in the Winter

Red wine also pairs well with those hearty dishes that usually hit our table during the winter months. From beef stews to baked pasta dishes, chicken pot pie to cheese fondues…. the astringent character of tannins in red wine pair exceptionally well with rich dishes because they help balance bold flavors.

So how do we know which red wine pairings go well together? There are many choices of red wine to warm you up when those temps outside drop. To help pick the one for you, consider the flavors and textures you crave most in the winter. The wine should demonstrate some weight on your palate and should carry the comforting scent of anything from blackberries and cinnamon to cracked black pepper and tobacco.

Unsure where to start? Download the Sippd app to explore some of our top picks in a wine list we’re calling “Warming Reds”!

Cabernet Sauvignon & Braised Meat or Steak

Cabernet Sauvignon, the most planted wine grape in the world, can be enjoyed year-round but seems to offer a little extra comfort during the winter season. This wine provides a full-bodied mouthfeel, dark fruit flavors, and velvety tannins that will instantly blanket your palate

This full-bodied wine craves fatty meats on the dinner table. This is because Cabernet is dry and tannic, so a fattier cut of meat will help counter the dryness of the wine. While braised meats and steaks are a classic pairing to this structured, flavorful wine, Cabernet Sauvignon can pair well with many winter vegetarian dishes, including portobello mushrooms, eggplant dishes, and lentil soup. 

Zinfandel & A Bacon Cheeseburger

Zinfandel is a robust, juicy, and jammy red wine that has made a name for itself on the West Coast of the United States. In fact, California is THE place for Zinfandel; although it originated from Croatia, it has taken on a personality of its own along the Pacific coastline. The primary flavors of Zinfandel are blueberry, black pepper, cherry, plum, boysenberry, cranberry, licorice, and sometimes peach yogurt. (You will never un-smell peach yogurt in your glass of Zin, you’re welcome!) When you taste Zinfandel, it often explodes with this intense candied fruitiness on the palate, followed by layers of savory and sweet spice and, depending on where it was grown, tobacco-like smoky finish. Don’t let all its fruitiness fool you, as Zinfandel is typically a high-alcohol wine. All the fruit masks the heat and tannin, making this wine a powerhouse for your palate.

Zinfandel is a wine to have fun with when paired with food. Try it with anything that has sweet and savory notes within its dish like a a Maple Syrup and Bacon glaze for a Pork Chop or a bacon cheeseburger loaded with the works. 

Syrah & Bold-Flavored Cheese

Syrah is a dry, full-bodied, opaque wine with brisk acidity, elevated alcohol levels, and firm tannins. Notes of olive and meatiness are often usually found in a glass of Syrah. Along with a range of flavors, from smoke, herbs, red, black, and blue fruits, white and black pepper, and fresh violet notes. Syrah elegantly takes on vanilla and baking spice flavors when aged in oak, adding layers of sweet aromas to the savory characteristics already present in the wine.

When pairing Syrah to your favorite comfort dish, consider those big meats and bold flavors, especially cheese. Syrah has a unique ability to compliment bold cheese flavors such as blue cheese and gorgonzola. The most fantastic pairing would be a sizzling steak with a blue cheese crust and savory steak sauce. 

Grenache & Barbecue

Another red wine with an elevated alcohol level, Grenache, shows off juicy, ripe red fruits, like strawberry and raspberry, that intertwine with spicy notes of cinnamon and clove. There’s a brightness to Grenache that shows through aromas of fresh and fragrant violets. This grape is light-skinned and seemingly delicate, but don’t think it’s a weak wine due to its elegant fruity and floral aromas. Grenache is known for its higher alcohol levels and rich fruit flavors that create a more round, full-bodied, structured wine that will show its strength on your palate.

Consider pairing roast chickens or BBQ with a wine like Grenache. Unlike some of the other full-bodied red wines, Grenache tends to have smoother tannins that can pair well with lighter types of meat such as Chicken or Turkey. Grenache pairs particularly well with BBQ sauces. It has a bold personality to hold up to the sweet, tangy and sometimes spicy flavors that compliment sweet/savory BBQ.

Can’t decide which wine style to try first? Download Sippd for free and head to the “Warming Reds” list to find your new favorite red wine pairings. We’ll even give you a 1-100% personalized wine score, known as “Taste Match” to each wine. This score will let you know how much you’ll enjoy the bottle before you even taste it. Download Sippd for free. Enjoy!