In the dead of winter, sometimes all you need is a cozy place to sit, a warm blanket, a good book or a great show, and an easy-drinking bottle of red wine. In these situations, you aren’t necessarily looking for a wine to blow you away, or pair well with a meal; what you need is a bottle that is a delicious, easy sipper, something a bit fruit- forward and “smooth,” perfect for helping you relax as you consider hibernating until spring.
For wines of the easy-drinking variety, southern France always seems to deliver. The wines from regions such as Languedoc-Roussillon and the southern Rhône often serve as the standard table wines in French homes or the by-the-glass pours at casual Parisian cafes. The reason for this is simple: The wines are of high-quality for the money, and often incredibly drinkable. One bottle in particular that I found represents this style well is Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2014.
Bursting with intense, ripe fruit flavors — seriously, think of those gusher candies you had as a kid — with a nice bit of tannins balanced by delicious acidity, this is a wine you want to drink when simply enjoying a glass or two with friends. Maybe there’s a simple cheese plate present, or maybe you just have the bottle; either way the wine delivers a luscious creaminess that can only be described as smooth.
At an average price of $10, this is the type of wine that you don’t have to feel guilty about opening, and thanks to the 1920s-style label, it looks great on the coffee table while you’re casually entertaining. This isn’t a wine made to cellar or open at that fancy dinner party you’re throwing. Instead, it’s meant for that impromptu night when your friend just pops by because they’re in the neighborhood, or when you’re having people over to watch movies and eat takeout. It even works when you’re flying solo and in the mood for a little wine but you don’t want to feel guilty about opening a bottle. This bottle delivers every time.