Changing Your Wine Wardrobe

By Jessica Norris Granatiero

This time of the year – when we are just over the edge of summer, the humidity has dissipated and nights are crisp and cooler – is one of my most favorite seasons, like it is for many people.

While I feel lugubrious about less light-filled days, I embrace the season’s changing wardrobes, moving wool sweaters, corduroy pants and heavier suit jackets to the closet’s front and pushing back shorts, sundresses and summer colors. In addition to clothes during this season, we also change 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. So, 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 bibulous 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.

Hearty red wines

Hearty red wines include options like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo and Amarone, the latter naming an Italian style of 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. That is not a bad thing.

A wine’s tannins are great for pairing with steaks and beef roasts that we often enjoy during autumn. These red wines’ tannins bind with a meat’s protein that then creates a butter-like sensation on the palate, instead of the drying, velvety one. It is true that a wine sipped alone tastes totally different than one paired with food, and the right food.

Malbec is a grape grown mostly in Argentina and southern France; Tempranillo is cultivated mostly in Spain. Some of these two reds can be light bodied if fermented and aged in stainless steel or cement vats. Though most of them provide us with a sipping experience full of luxurious silkiness, coating the mouth, because of their time aging in oak barrels. Oak barrels are used to provide structure, body and added flavors in wine.

Amarone – made from grapes indigenous to Italy’s Veneto area – is a wine like no other. Extremely opulent filled with an abundant of fruit, Amarone will warm you on any chilly fall evening. The perfect matches for it are pulled pork from the crock pot or oven, lamb with a dried cherry sauce and game days. Amarone is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, and with one sip you will see why!

Lush, full-bodied white wines

Lush full-bodied whites encompass Chardonnay and Viognier, both made in a style with oak barrel aging. Viognier, unknown to many, is a grape grown often in southern France, Washington state and sometimes California. Condrieu, France in the northern part of the Rhône Valley is the most famous area for Viognier. 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. These richer styles of Chardonnay and Viognier are splendid partners for chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie and salmon. Lastly, anything toasty or bready or foods as simple as smoked Gouda cheese and roasted nuts pair well too.

Fruit-made wines

Fruit wines are as the name states – wines made from fruits other than grapes, such as blueberry, apple and cranberry. They can be dry or cloyingly sweet. The vineyard Nickle Creek in Rhode Island makes some of the best flavored sweeter fruit wines, like its Autumn Cranberry. Sip that while nibbling on fresh cranberry and nut bread. While Maine’s Bluet, made from fresh Maine wild blueberries, is a dry slightly sparkling wine, similar to Lambrusco. It’s stunning! My favorite pairings with it are wine biscuits made with Bluet.

Fruit wines are best enjoyed with only 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.  

(PHOTO CREDIT: Bluet wild blueberry sparkling wine from Maine, paired with homemade wine biscuits that are made with said wine.)

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For more musings from The Savory Grape’s Founder, Jessica Granatiero, follow her on Instagram.