Wine for a Cozy Night In

Jan 25, 2024by Andrew Lowry

When the temperature drops and the nights get longer, there's nothing quite like curling up on the couch with a glass of red wine. Whether you're enjoying a movie marathon or catching up on your favorite book, a cozy night in calls for the perfect bottle of wine. Here are 10 wine recommendations that will make your winter evenings even more delightful.

1. GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) Blends from Around the World  (from Torbreck RunRig - Barossa Valley, Australia; Guigal - Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France; Domaine de la Terre Rouge - Sierra Foothills, California; K Vintners, or Mark Ryan Winery - Walla Walla Valley, Washington)

#1 on the list is the powerful, delicious GSM blend, composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grape varieties. The Southern Rhône Valley in France is the most famous wine region for this style of wine, and is the guiding light for anyone making a GSM elsewhere. 

What makes this wine so great for winter or a cuddly couch sesh? The Grenache brings fruit characteristics and warmth, the Syrah brings spiciness and velvety tannins (if done well), and the Mourvèdre brings a sense of structure that ties it all together. On the palate, the rich, velvety textures and layers of flavors, including dark fruits, subtle herbs, and a touch of pepper, result in a wine that you will want to sip on when watching a cult classic rom-com, cuddled up in your favorite Barefoot Dreams blanket. Whether enjoyed by the fireplace or paired with hearty winter dishes, GSM blends create an inviting atmosphere, making them the quintessential choice for a cozy night in during the winter months.

2. Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy (Li Veli, Masserie Pizari, Cosimo Taurino)

Next up on this list is probably a wine you've never heard of, but should try nonetheless -- Negroamaro, a red grape variety native to the Southern Italian region of Puglia. This wine presents itself as a perfect wine for winter because of its rich and full-bodied characteristics. The grape thrives in the warm and sunny coastal climate of Puglia, Italy, nestled in the middle of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea. When grown in and around the Salento Rosso IGT region of Puglia, the Negroamaro wine grape variety creates wines of deep, dark fruit flavors, velvety textures, and a hint of spiciness. Negroamaro's full-bodied profile, often accompanied by notes of black cherry, plum, and subtle herbal nuances, provides a comforting and warming experience ideal for the colder months. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with hearty winter dishes, the wine's structure and complexity make it a delightful companion for cozy evenings by the fireplace, adding a touch of warmth and elegance to the winter wine repertoire.

3. Marsanne - Roussanne Blends from Around the World (Tablas Creek - California; E. Guigal - Condrieu, France; Château de Beaucastel - Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France; Rôtie Cellars - Walla Walla Valley, Washington) 

This is the only white wine to make our list, and for good's pretty hard to beat. We'll talk about each grape separately, but it's the combo of the two that really makes a perfect drink in the winter.

Marsanne is a white grape from the Rhône Valley in France. It produces full-bodied wines with flavors of ripe pear, honey, and toasted nuts.

Roussanne is another white grape variety from the Rhône Valley. It produces wines with a rich and aromatic profile, often featuring notes of apricot, honey, and floral undertones. 

4. Pinot Noirs from Oregon (Domaine Drouhin, Human Cellars, Walter Scott, Adelsheim Vineyard)

For those who prefer a lighter red, Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley is an excellent choice. This cool-climate region produces elegant and nuanced wines (many of them similar to your favorite Burgundies, but at a better value) with flavors of red berries, earth, and spice. It's the perfect wine to sip on while enjoying a quiet evening at home. 

5. Rioja, La Rioja, Spain (look for Bodegas Mugas, La Rioja Alta, Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE))

Rioja, produced in the La Rioja region of Spain, is a versatile red wine that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of dishes. Made primarily from the Tempranillo grape, Rioja offers flavors of red fruit, vanilla, and oak. It's a great option for those who enjoy a well-balanced and approachable wine. Rioja comes in all shapes and sizes, from huge Gran Riservas to humble Crianzas. We can only recommend that you try them all and pick the one you like the most! The only Rioja we have is a Gran Riserva, but we have a killer Spanish wine made of the same grape, but for a fraction of the cost.

6. Touriga Nacional from Portugal (look for producers like Niepoort, Mateus Nicolau de Almeida, Douro Boys)

Touriga Nacional (this grape usually dominates the red blends of Portugal) is a red wine grape that is widely grown in the Dao region of Portugal. With its intense aromas of black fruit, violet, and herbs, Touriga Nacional is the perfect companion for a cozy night in. Pair it with a plate of Portuguese cheeses or a bowl of hearty stew. Portugal offers some of the best red and white wines at an insane value, but we tend to overlook them because of the unfamiliar grapes used to make them.

7. Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California (from producers like Rudd, Mount Eden, Larkmead, many...and Ridge Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains))

This list would not be complete without mentioning Cabernet Sauvignon, and particularly Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It would've been too easy and too typically to put this wine at the top of our list, but hey, #7 ain't bad! Napa Valley, the premier wine region in California, has made a name for itself by producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines. With its dark ripe fruit flavors, firm tannins, high alcohol (usually), and hints of cedar vanilla, and tobacco, this wine is a true classic that will elevate a cozy night.

8. Amarone della Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy (look for producers: La Biancara, Monte dall'Ora, or Dal Forno Romano)

Amarone della Valpolicella is a unique and luxurious red wine from the Veneto region of Italy. Made from partially dried grapes to prep for a finished wine that will be high in alcohol, this wine is rich, full-bodied, and bursting with flavors of dried fruit, chocolate, and spice. It's the perfect indulgence for a special winter evening...if you like 17% ABV.

9. Port, Portugal

With its deep, velvety texture and rich, full-bodied flavors, Port warms you from the inside out. The notes of dark fruits, spices, and chocolate envelop your senses, creating a cozy and comforting experience. Here are a few of our favorites that you can find for <$45 somewhere:

  1. Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port - This rich and full-bodied Port offers flavors of blackberries, plums, and dark chocolate. It pairs well with chocolate desserts and aged cheeses.
  2. Dow's Late Bottled Vintage Port - With its intense berry flavors and hints of spice, this LBV Port is a great choice for those looking for a more affordable alternative to vintage Port.
  3. Anything by Niepoort :)

Btw, Port has residual sugar. It can taste sweet to off dry, though, depending on the acidity of the wine. Port is usually consumed in 3 oz. pours and it's definitely a one glasser to cap the night...or maybe two...but don't tempt us with a good time

10. Zinfandel, California  (from Lodi, Amador County, and El Dorado County, and Sonoma County - Dry Creek AVA)

There's no better place to grab a Zin than in California (and Croatia and Puglia, Italy...). It's a versatile red wine that can range from light and fruity to bold and spicy. Sonoma County is a prime location for Zinfandel, offering wines with flavors of raspberry, blackberry, and black pepper. It's a great option for those who enjoy a fruit-forward and easy-drinking wine.

Look to Lodi for something a bit bigger, on average. And look to El Dorado, or the Sierra Foothills for something lighter and often natty and experimental!

All right, that's it!

Next time you're planning a cozy night in, consider one of these 10 red wines to enhance your experience. Whether you prefer a full-bodied and robust wine or a lighter and more delicate option, there's something on this list for everyone. Cheers to a winter filled with warmth, comfort, love, and delicious wines!