This time of the year – when the humidity has dissipated and nights are crisp and cool – is one of my most favorite seasons, like it is for many people. I love the freshness that a new season brings. While I feel sad about less light-filled days, I embrace the season’s changing wardrobes, moving wool sweaters, corduroy pants, boots and heavier jackets to the closet’s front and pushing back shorts, sundresses and summer colors. In addition to clothes, we also are changing our wine wardrobes. Yes – a wine wardrobe!
This means we bring forth wines that partner well with the season’s cool nights and hearty foods. What in the wine world marks the fall season like pumpkin spice lattes do in the coffee space? Hearty red wines, lush, full-bodied white wines and full-flavored fruit wines, which are ones made from fruits other than grapes, are the go-tos.
“Why do we consider different wines for different seasons,” you may ask. As I always say, drink what you like anytime, but sipping a wine incongruous to the season may not bring out the best sipping pleasures. For example, a hearty red wine on a hot summer day is like wearing a wool coat to the beach. It’s not as enjoyable, or at least I don’t think it is. But that same enveloping, luscious red on a cold evening will warm your senses blissfully!
Hearty reds in our changing wine wardrobes
Hearty red wines include options like cabernet sauvignon, malbec, tempranillo and Amarone, the latter naming an Italian wine made from a combination of grapes. These mentioned hearty reds typically are packed with more tannins, components in the grape skins and seeds which often give you that mouth coating, drying sensation. You know what I mean right? But pair one of these with steaks, roasts or vegetable chili that we enjoy during autumn and you have yourself a match made in heaven. Red wines’ tannins bind with meats’ proteins that then create a butter-like, silky sensation in the mouth, instead of the velvety one. True Bliss! When you sip a wine alone it tastes totally different than when you pair it with food.
Malbec is grown mostly in Argentina and southern France; Spain is home to tempranillo. Some of these two reds are light bodied when aged in stainless steel or cement. Though most of them give us a sipping experience full of luxurious silkiness, coating the mouth when they age in oak barrels. Winemakers use oak barrels for structure, body and added flavors.
Amarone – made from grapes in Italy’s Veneto area – is a wine like no other. (The Veneto is near Franciacorta, and see my recent blog on that area.) Extremely opulent filled with an abundant of fruit, Amarone heats you on a chilly night. Pulled pork from the crock pot, lamb with a dried cherry sauce and game day Sundays pair with Amarone. This wine is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, and with one sip you will see why! One of my favorite Amarones is the Bertani family’s Tenuta Santa Maria – look also at this place. It’s stunning and only within an hour from Verona, the city of love!
Move up lush, full bodied white wines
Lush full-bodied whites encompass chardonnay and viognier, made in a style with oak barrel aging. Viognier, unknown to many, is a grape often from southern France, Washington state and sometimes California. Look for oak-aged Chardonnay from California or France – nice tropical fruit notes, creamy and buttery! These richer styles of chardonnay and viognier are splendid partners for popcorn, grilled cheese, chicken pot pie and salmon.
Viognier gives us a voluptuous body and flavors of tropical fruits, and when it rests for months or years in oak barrels the resulting wine packs a honey punch. Love, love, love this. Lastly, something as simple as smoked Gouda cheese and roasted nuts pair well with these beauties too.
Fruit wines in the changing wardrobe
Fruit wines are as the name states – wines made from fruits other than grapes, such as blueberry, apple or cranberry. They can be dry or cloyingly sweet, and almost every state has a vineyard that makes some type of fruit wine. Seek out a local one from your area. I love adding one when we are changing our wine wardrobes.
Maine’s Bluet, made from fresh Maine wild blueberries, is a dry, slightly sparkling wine. I think it’s similar to Lambrusco. Gorgeous, it truly reveals it’s sense of place! My favorite pairings with it are wine biscuits that are made with Bluet.
Nickle Creek Vineyard in Rhode Island makes some of the best flavored sweet fruit wines, like its Autumn Cranberry. Sip that while nibbling on fresh cranberry and nut bread.
Fruit wines are best enjoyed with a slight chill on them. When wines are too cold, meaning just removed from the refrigerator, its flavors are masked. Wine needs time to open up and bloom. So, I always recommend taking wine out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you want to sip it.
Enjoy fall and some of these complementary flavors.