Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Autumnal Wines for These Early Evenings

With autumn fast approaching, it’s time to discover wines that blend with the season, wines that offer comfort and contentment.   

Just as we dress seasonally, we tend to drink seasonally. At this time of year, comfort foods become more sought after in the early darkness and comfort wines offer a respite from summer’s light and fruity flavors.

An autumn wine, to me, should be complex yet elegant, something to sip as you delve into a murder mystery, or settle down to watch a scary movie. Just as our clothing gets heavier to ward off the autumn chill, our wines become more substantial offering more weight and body.

Oak is a great component of autumnal wines; we tend to identify with those woody, smoky flavors that we associate with bon-fires and chilly evenings.

Autumnal Reds

When I think of autumn red wines, I always think of something dark and brooding, with a medium to heavy body and the aromas of wood, tobacco and pepper. Good, hearty wines to pair with the hearty foods we now crave.

Zinfandel Grapes
This is the perfect season to try a robust Zinfandel with notes of spice and tobacco, ending with tannins that lingers on your tongue. If you're looking for a great accompaniment for a meal with pheasant or venison, a big, bold Zin is the answer!

Malbec Grapes
Another fall favorite is Malbec with hints of pepper and spice that blend well with any breezy autumn evening. An entertaining Saturday night might include lamb or duck served with an Argentinian Malbec to chase the chill away.

Merlot and its oaky, smoky tobacco essence is always a go-to for me in the autumn. It’s like pulling out that favorite sweater that I shoved to the back of the closet during the hot weather months, and rediscovering it again - glorious.

Autumnal Whites

While spring and summer whites are light, fruity, happy wines, fall whites are somewhat melancholy. The oak is more forward, the wines more crisp, and the aromas are of apples and citrus.

Chardonnay Grapes
An oaked Chardonnay is a nice autumn wine. Give me one with a goldeyellow hue, herbal notes and some tangy mineral flavors that is well balanced wine, and I’m in heaven.

Riesling Grapes
A rich Riesling can’t be beat for autumn. Look for one that has some nice green apple notes wrapped around those nutty nuances of fall. Stir up a meal with Italian sausage, pasta and pine nuts, then pour a glass of Riesling and enjoy.

Pinot Grigio
Look for a golden hued Pinot Grigio with an aroma of honey and the subtle flavor of toasted almonds for a true autumn standout. Pull out the grill one more time for grilled chicken topped with a hearty Marinara sauce and a welcomed glass of Pinot Gris.

Autumn Sparkles

A sparking wine can shine in autumn! Even better is one that has crisp, apple flavors with a hint of mineral.

Moscato sparkles can offer traces of herbs and minerals in a bright, bubbly package. Chill well and let it “speak to you” as the darkness gathers…

Autumn Desserts

Glass of Port
Fall is definitely the season for Ports and Sherries. Pour one of these dessert wines, cup the glass in your hand, stand around a blazing bonfire with flames licking the night sky, and see if this does not produce a feeling of contentment…

Cabernet Franc
And as the weather gets colder, don’t be afraid to go bolder. Cabernet Franc and Shiraz are the harbingers of winter, so pull them out to enjoy around Thanksgiving.

Keep in mind, wine is not the only exceptional autumn beverage – don’t miss out on ciders, apple jack, or those autumnal inspired harvest brews at this time of the year; just another way to celebrate the darker season with a comfort drink – or two.

~ Joy