Fall is a festive season. And as the temperature drops, our thoughts inevitably turn to thick sweaters, blazing fires, and myriad of foods and spices, plus of course, those autumn wines. In addition to universal favorites that are uniquely food-friendly, like Pinot Noir, we think of the bigger, bolder, more complex wines like the proverbial Cabernet Sauvignon. But the harvest season doesn’t have to be the exclusive purview of the reds. A host of delicious wines transition into cooler temperatures – covering the spectrum between reds and whites.
Rosé wine is not just for summer. This versatile grape is one of the world’s most planted grapes and with good reason. Rosés are often made from more full-bodied grapes like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Grenaché.
The French Grenaché wine from the Bordeaux region is the epitome of Fall. It is often aged in oak, with spice notes of star anise, cinnamon, licorice, and tobacco. Secondary notes of dried herbs, orange rind, and black pepper add complexity. This wine is perfect for cold-weather dishes such as BBQ, Turkey, stews, and root vegetables.
But, as a result of the wine-making process, as rosés age, the fruit flavors fade. Thus rosés should be consumed within a year or two of bottling.
Luckily, the Grenaché grape can easily hold up to the harvest table offerings, even in youth.
Dolcetto is a beautifully soft, round, fruity Italian ruby red wine that is perfect with heavier sauces, BBQ Chicken, mushrooms, pizza, and marinara dishes. Simple and easy to drink with food or sip by the fire. This black varietal is grown exclusively in Piedmont, northwest Italy.
Dolcetto is a people’s wine, ripening early in colder climes and should be drunk young, a few years of ripening. Dolcetto has distinctive notes of licorice, blackberry, plum, spice, and almond.
Similar to Dolcetto, Barbera is one of the best autumn wines. This delicious Dolcetto cousin was initially grown in the Monferrato region of Northern Italy. It is now a world grape. Barbera is highly acidic, enhancing its fruit flavors of strawberry and sour cherry but allowing for a more sippable red.
Tempranillo is Harvest season in a glass. This black grape is an early ripening Spanish varietal. In Spain, the wine is called Tinto Fino. It is also known by its region, Rioja. Full-bodied with high tannins, one taste conjures everything we can imagine of the Fall, including pumpkin spice, earthy tobacco, leather, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Medium ruby to garnet colored Tempranillo pairs perfectly with any Thanksgiving table, loving all things thick marinara, smoky meats, or a hearty bowl of chili. Tempranillo is also highly sippable at the barbeque or by the fire pit.
Related: 5 Great Cabernet Sauvignons for 2022
While it is true that autumn wines are firmly entrenched in the red category, there are a few bolder whites that can stand up to the season. Bordeaux Blanc (White) is one of the most underrated whites. Dominated by the waxy Sémillon grape with a dash of Sauvignon Blanc for energy, this wine is rounder, more unctuous, and luxurious. It can be unoaked or oaked aged for additional complexity.
Fairly acidic and food-friendly, White Bordeaux has lemonary, gooseberry, and Chamomile notes. And hidden gem pairs exceptionally well with the Fall table. Unoaked versions do well with briny crab ravioli and shrimp scampi. While oaked versions love tarragon gravy over turkey or butternut squash soup.
Viognier (Vee-own-yay) is a Southern French white grape. While exclusive to the Rhône Valley for Condrieu wine, Viognier has quickly become a world grape. This delicious fruit imparts qualities of honeysuckle tempered with peaches and vanilla. Viognier is a dry, oily, white wine, typically enjoyed young. Bolder and more complex than summer whites, it pairs perfectly with a Fall table, including turkey, creaming cheeses such as brie, and spicy dishes.
Nothing is better when the temperatures begin to drop than a roaring fire and a good glass of wine. Luckily, whether you prefer white, red, or rosé for your autumn drinking, there is always a good wine to be enjoyed.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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