Here are five wines, all less than $20, to help you through the winter chill. They include a rich Cotes-du-Rhone that tastes above its pedigree, a fun and juicy Sicilian red, and a philanthropic South African red that funnels extra profits back to the farmers who grow the grapes.
Clos du Mont-Olivet Vieille Vignes 2015
Cotes-du-Rhone, France, $18
This savory, rich red evokes southern France with its scents and flavors of dark fruit, lavender and wild thyme. The winemaker deftly captured the warmth of a ripe vintage without letting the sugar levels in the grapes—and the resulting alcohol in the wine—get out of whack. Alcohol by volume: 14.5 percent.
Donnafugata Sedàra 2015
Sicily, Italy, $18
Sometimes a good wine just needs to get the job done, but with a little added flair. This juicy red blend based on Sicily’s own nero d’avola is ideal for casual weeknight meals such as pizza, pasta, even grilled fish or meat. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Stillman St. Chardonnay 2016
Sonoma County, California, $18
This is good, straightforward chardonnay, rich with stone fruit flavors, just a little bit of influence from older oak barrels, and a nicely balanced finish. ABV: 14.1 percent.
Cape Venture Wine Co. Lubanzi 2015
South Africa, $15
Lubanzi is the creation of Washington-based Charles Brain and Walker Brown, who trekked across part of South Africa a few years ago with a stray dog named Lubanzi. They describe their company as a sustainable enterprise; half of the profits go back to the farmers who grew the grapes. They launched last year with two wines: a 2016 chenin blanc and this deliciously zesty 2015 Rhone-style red, a blend of shiraz, cinsault, mourvedre and grenache. The wines are sealed with an innovative twist-off cork. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Legado del Moncayo Dry Muscat 2016
Campo de Borja, Spain, $14
Muscat tends to be sweet. Dry versions like this one retain the grape’s flowery and citrus character. Think of standing in a lemon grove near the ocean on a breezy day. This is delicious by itself but would be a great partner for seafood salad or paella. ABV: 13 percent.