Many of us have our preferred bottles for light, airy summers and the deepest, darkest winters but the arrival of Autumn can present a unique challenge in how best to prepare for the unpredictable season.
In the span of a few short months, large swaths of the country swing from high heat and humidity to crisp, dry lows, and some regions are lucky enough to undergo those cycles a few times before winter fully takes hold. For some folks battling those climactic shifts the solution might be to simply stock up for wines suited to both extremes, but the resourceful oenophile will recognize the opportunity to prepare a selection suited to the best of what Fall provides.
If you haven’t already prepared a list of your own, here are the 8 wines we recommend that you stock up on for Autumn.
- Pinot Noir: though commonly associated with France, these grapes are grown all over the world and the differences in climate and terrain create allow for plenty of fine tuning for preferences. Across the board they trend toward berry aromas, ranging light to medium in body, with a satisfying richness.
- Malbec: like the Pinots mentioned above, Malbecs share a fruit-forward first impression, but are more robust and earthy. These spicy, inky-dark wines are some of the more rustic reds out there and will have you wanting to gather dry leaves and start cracking twigs for campfire kindling.
- Merlot: while Merlots tend to embody three distinct profiles, our preferred variety for Autumn are the velvety ones with minimal tannic structure that warm from within when the temperatures begin to drop with the sun.
- Cabernet Franc: matching its Cabernet Sauvignon cousin in richness, the Franc is lighter in both pigment and tannins and makes for another smooth sipper. Noted for its hints of bell pepper, it makes for a great pairing with many vegetable dishes and most Autumn classics, but it’s really at home with stews or the year’s first pot of chili.
- Sparkling Wine: Perhaps Champagne and sparkling wines were an unfair addition to the list given the all-purpose applicability, but these options are an ideal match for those brilliant Autumn days that are cool enough for a sweater but warm enough for a picnic. Since the ideal temperature for serving sparkling wine is between 45 and 50 degrees (too warm for a fridge, too low for room temperature), they really benefit from dual-zone or even triple-zone wine coolers that can store different varieties in their ideal zone.
- Roussanne: The notoriously finicky grapes that give us Roussanne are an eternal frustration for wineries, but we love this full bodied, acidic wine boasting nutty and honey flavors. Not that a wine need go with anything, but this one is perfect with strong cheeses after a hike through leaf peeping country.
- Oaked Chardonnays: While Chardonnay is so predominant that the grapes are present in every form imaginable, we’re especially fond of oaked bottles with hints of caramel and cinnamon. Something about the combination of these flavors seems perfect for spending a bit too long in the orchard while picking apples.
- Viognier: The floral aroma includes more peaches and pears than the Chardonnay, these bottles are intended to be consumed young and are typically dry with low acidity. Crisper selections are perhaps the consummate way to enjoy a late brunch or outdoor snack of a walnut and apple salad.
With an endless array of varietals and blends, we’ve all got our go-to favorites, but we’ve found the best picks for the season are those that mirror the spirit of the season and burst with a vibrancy of their own. Whether you navigate by the weather, your daily activity, or your next meal, Fall requires amateur connoisseurs be nimble on their toes and willing to plan ahead, but a little preparation ensures you can make the most of the season.