I notice a huge shift in my food preferences when fall comes and the weather starts to change. My tastes turn to spices, heat and fall flavors, like pumpkin, apple and squash. Hearty vegetable stews and robust wines start to sound wonderful. The big question is what are the best fall wines to pair with these delicious tastes.
Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly recently wrote an article highlighting her favorite fall wines. She argues that in October we’re not quite ready for the Cabernets and Sagrantinos of winter but that we need something for the shorter days and the rain. She lobbies for nine particular wines, two whites and seven reds. With the exception of the quote from my blog article, all of the quotes below come from Puckette’s article.
- Sémillon – Puckette likes this white wine’s full-bodied nature and its notes of honey and almond, along with its oily texture. When Sémillon is blended with Sauvignon Blanc, as it is in the Bordeaux region of France, she thinks it pairs perfectly with dark green fall veggies.
- Marsanne/Roussanne – These two Northern Rhone wines are often blended together to “make a rich, medium-to-full-bodied white with striking perfume aromas, creamy pear and nut flavors, and a downright filling finish.”
- Barbera – In my article on Barbera, I wrote that Barbera has two personas: “Persona #1: It is the red table wine in just about every Italian restaurant around the world. Persona #2: It doesn’t get a lot of respect.” Truth be told, “Barbera is Northern Italy’s wine of the people and is never too far from a Piedmontese dining table. This wine… can taste both rich and light-bodied, offering the berry and cherry notes in bigger wines, but goes down like a treat, thanks to lively acidity.”
- Dolcetto – While I’m pleased to see that Puckette has included this wine on her fall wine list, I could honestly drink Dolcetto year round. I think of Dolcetto as a berry party in my mouth – an adult form of Hawaiian Punch. To learn more about this wonderful Piedmont-origin grape, please read one of my Dolcetto articles.
- Carignan – This grape has a long history on the Italian island of Sardinia. It is known for its “cranberry, cured meat and baking spice flavors.”
- Grenache – “When it comes to fall-friendly wines, this is arguably one of the friendliest. So much so that we wonder if it shouldn’t be in the obvious column. Character, of course, varies from region to region with raspberry and clove (Spain, Australia, U.S.A.) in some, and dried strawberry and herbs in others (France, Italy.)” Another benefit of Grenache: It might help you live longer!
- Rhone Blends – The typical Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre takes Grenache to a slightly darker, richer place. More tannin. More smoke. More lavender. And even some green herbs.
- Cabernet Franc – For a less fruit-forward wine, Cabernet Franc is just the ticket. Cabernet Franc is known for having a lot of vegetal notes. Perfect for fall food pairings. For some pairing suggestions, please check out my Cabernet Franc Food Pairings article.
- Primitivo/Zinfandel – This wine’s jammy, peppery notes make it perfect for a cold, rainy night. Look for notes of “cinnamon, raisin, chocolate, and tobacco.”
Please share your favorite fall wines here. Thanks. Cheers!
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