Robust red wines to chase off the last of the winter chill

John Wilson: A hearty beef, lamb or bean stew will taste immeasurably better with a full-bodied red wine

The days may well be getting longer and allegedly brighter too, but as I write, it has been distinctly wintry. As January comes to a close, we may be in need of something soft and warming in our glasses. Leave aside those light fragrant wines for a few weeks. Forget, for the moment, about chilling your red wines. Instead bask in the warmth of a smooth, full-bodied red wine that will help fend off the last of the cold weather. Cook a satisfying robust stew and sit down with a generous bowl of it and an equally generous glass of rich red wine.

Most producer countries offer full-bodied red wines, usually from the warmer regions, such as Puglia in Italy, the Rhône and Languedoc in France, shiraz or grenache from the Barossa and McLaren Vale in Australia, zinfandel from California, and malbec from the lower reaches of Mendoza in Argentina. Many of these countries or regions also have their own stews, so you could combine the two. I find spicier stews such as tagine or chilli con carne tend to go better with riper wines from Australia or California. But a hearty beef, lamb or bean stew of any kind will taste immeasurably better when paired with a full-bodied red wine.

This week, four wines with a heart-warming 14.5 per cent alcohol that will pair nicely with hearty winter dishes.

Specially Selected Australian Merlot 2022

14.5%, €9.99

Simple, sweet, ripe, jammy dark fruits with a smooth finish. This is perfect winter sustenance by itself or with warming casseroles.


From Aldi

Gérard Bertrand Château de la Grange Fitou (Organic)

14.5%, €17.95

Substantial ripe dark fruits with an attractive spiciness and a rounded finish. Try it with cassoulet, a daube of beef, or a rich, herby tomato and bean stew.

From O’Briens

Le Temps Est Venu 2021, Côtes du Rhône, Stephane Ogier

14.5%, €18.95-25

Although not without a certain elegance, this is a powerful, full-bodied wine with smooth ripe red fruits and a touch of spice. Enjoy alongside roast red meats or a rare steak.

From Searsons, Monkstown; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Donnybrook Fair; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock

La Rioja Alta 2018, Rioja Reserva

14.5%, €25

An excellent traditional Rioja Reserva with smooth concentrated red cherry and raspberry fruits, sweet vanilla spice and a long, rounded finish. This would go perfectly with braised or roast lamb or cocido.

Widely available including from Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Wines on the Green, D2; Clontarf Wines; Deveney’s, D14 Sweeneys, D3; Gibneys, Malahide; Grapevine, Dalkey