Fall is in full swing as we enter into mid-October and in most places the weather is changing and it’s finally starting to get a bit cooler. As the leaves change colors and temperatures drop, I tend to get into a cozy mood most evenings. Whether that mood is inside curled up on the couch or outside enjoying a casual sunset with friends, it is nice to layer up and drink a nice glass of wine that complements the mood. So, let’s talk about some wines that not only complement the mood, but also pair well with the season.
The Fall can be an interesting time because while the nights get cooler, the daytime can still be warm and full of sunshine. The good news is that unlike the rules of fashion and not wearing white after Labor Day, it is still completely acceptable to drink white wine or rose after the summer. However, because it isn’t as hot outside, your body may be craving something a little less fruity and tangy, but instead craving something a bit more dry and full bodied with more substantial and complex flavors. These qualities can be found in both white and red wines.
White wines to enjoy in the Fall may be a nice cold, buttery or more mineral Chardonnay, or perhaps a crisp, dry Pinot Grigio or Sancerre. These wines are versatile for pairing with many of the comfort foods that we love this time of year. They also pair well with creamy, stinky, or buttery cheeses, as well as lighter fare soups, chilis and chicken. The chilled light fruit flavor is refreshing and they are balanced on the palate with a lingering finish that adds complexity and drinkability.
The cooler weather also draws us toward those favorite red wines that are easy to drink and that are enjoyable on a lovely Fall day. A preference for many wine drinkers is a “go-to” red blend. There are so many options available that most stores now have an entire section for red blends, just as they do for other traditional varietals. While there are several variations of red blends, grapes such as the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, tend to be some of the more familiar grapes identified on many bottles. However new blends from across the wine regions continue to be developed. These wines tend to be aged for less time than a traditional red which can add to their vibrant mouth-full flavors, providing a pleasant explosion of fruits on the palate, also with a less dry finish. This makes red blends easy to drink on their own or when paired with majority of seasonal cuisine.
Another great red wine for the Fall is a Pinot Noir. Many undervalue this wine as it’s a lighter fared wine and the flavors can vary from light to bold depending on the region. For example, Pinot Noirs from New Zealand or specific parts of the North West States, such as Oregon and Washington, have the climate to produce amazing full body taste of red fruits with a smooth and mildly spicey finish. This wine pairs very well with meaty dishes, specifically those where the wine should complement but not overpower the meat. Turkey is a great example and we will discuss that relationship further around Thanksgiving.
Other fine lighter fare wines to enjoy during this lovely season are Gamay, Beaujolais, Syrah, and Zinfandel. These wines are also light to medium bodied, each with their own fruit flavors, varying levels of spiciness, balance and complexity. Much like the Pinot Noir, these wines are not overpowering and yet for that same reason can be easy to drink on their own and nicely paired with many types of dishes, favorite comfort foods and are quite tasty with those pumpkin spice baked goods.
So, now you know what wines to look for and experience throughout the Fall season. Maybe you will find a wine that you had not tasted before and you can share that new found favorite with a friend or loved one. Next year we can plan to share these tastings together at Wine Culture where we will ensure that all of your Fall wines are available for all of those special occasions.