Wines for Fall
Looking for a wine to serve at your fall get together or family gathering? I’ve tasted my way through several flights of wines to come up with these winners. They rose to the top of my “best of fall” wine list because they are:
- Readily available
- Moderately priced
- Pair well with several types of foods and
- Taste great
All of my choices are white wines. Why? Because a lot of people may not enjoy red wines including some of your close friends. This list gives them a chance to still be included in the top wines of the fall list. Also, I think people are less intimidated by white wines. White wines seem less formal, although many white wines have esteem in the overall wine world. Lastly, these wines are sophisticated enough that even the red wine drinking “snobs” will find them full-bodied, rich and pleasurable. Enjoy some of my favorite white wines at your next social.
Versatile White Wines
Summer is over. Wow, was it a hot one. But just because temperatures have cooled down, at least for most of the country, it doesn’t mean you have to only drink red wines. There are still many opportunities to drink white wine, including with more hearty fall foods. Crisp, refreshing white wines do not have to be relegated to the cellar until Spring. Nor do you have to set aside the oak-aged white wines for Thanksgiving dinner only.
Any of these white wines deserve to be front and center at your next dinner party, holiday dinner or get together with friends. They are great sipping wines for casual hanging out and excellent with snack foods, especially salty ones you’re likely to serve on game day. Pair them with fall dishes such as white bean chili, chicken enchiladas, turkey meatloaf, lobster mac n’ cheese and vegetarian dishes, particularly any using a cream sauce.
Here’s my list for the Top 5 Fall Wines. My selections are all over the globe, so snuggle up with a great book, pack your virtual bags and let’s take a white wine tour.
2010 Graf Hardeggo, Grüner Vetliner, Austria $22
This is a Qualitätswein Trocken or high-quality, dry wine white. It was grown in a cool-weather climate in the Weinviertel region, located in northeastern Austria. The region’s south-facing slopes are considered an ideal growing location in the production of top-notch wines.
This locale provides ample sunshine and heat during the day, resulting in bright lemon zest, some spice and flowery-honey flavors. In the evening, the diurnal temperature swings allow for acidity to build and lock in. The acidity is what gives it the characteristic for being a great food-friendly wine. The acidity also does a great job of masking the wine’s slight sweetness.
It’s a refreshingly bright wine with balance and minerality, making it a textbook, pre-dinner wine that carries well into the meal. Serve it alongside popular football party foods such as those with breading, anti-pasta plates, almost anything fried and cheese-based dishes. Also, if take-out is your idea of cooking, then you’ll be happy to know it pairs well with Thai food and Indian curry entrées. Of course, given its country of origin, pour a glass while enjoying grilled sausages and fingerling potatoes. Don’t be afraid to pair it with fall/winter vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach and difficult-to-pair artichoke.
I bought this 2010 wine March 2013, but am just now getting around to drinking it. It held up nicely in my aging cellar. So if you buy a couple of bottles and want to hold on to one for a few years, it is age worthy.
Our friends the LAMs, gave us a bottle of wine of Elk Cove Gewurztraminer. I loved it so much that I started trying other wines from this producer. (Hint: Selecting wines from a producer you like is a great tip for discovering new wines to try when you haven’t a clue where to start your search.) I haven’t been disappointed yet with any of their wines including this Pinot Gris.
The Willamette Valley is known for their award-winning Pinot Noir. But Pinot Gris is also a top-grape variety that has thrived in this area. It may surprise you to learn that Oregon winemakers were the first New World producers of Pinot Gris. Producers in the “King of the Pinots” region have continued to grow this variety as its popularity soars. Many Willamette winemakers have earned accolades with their bottles. As a result, Pinot Gris is more prevalent than Chardonnay throughout the state.
If you think all Pinto Gris wines are for newbie wine drinkers with questionable taste, think again. This is a serious wine drinkers wine. The nose has aromatic, orange blossoms. The flavor profile is tropical pineapple and juicy, Anjou pear. It’s a wine made to be served with food, making it perfect for the foods that don a mish-mash, potluck table.
Note: Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape. Gris is the name of the French grape clone, while Grigio is from Italy.
2013 Tangent Viognier, Edna Valley, California $15
I enjoyed this delightful-tasting wine with a meal of garlic shrimp (And I’m talking lots of caramelized garlic pieces) with rice and broccoli. It impressed me with how well it pairs with seafood, as well as hard-to-pair vegetables like oven-roasted broccoli. The Cnetral Coast appellation can be warm. However, this Viognier came in at only 13.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). Surely the grapes were tempered by the nearby cool ocean breezes that blow through the Edna Valley.
Tangent has become a huge player in the stainless steel-fermented white wines. Their Viognier is a great example of the success they have had using this method. The fruit is as beautiful as a pageant queen. I tasted peach cobbler and dried apricots. It is a dry wine, meaning not sweet, although the balanced taste of honey may make some think otherwise.
If you are concerned about the environment, (who isn’t?), you’ll be happy to know the winery has two estate vineyards that have earned a Sustainability In Practice (SIP) Vineyard Certification. This certification shows the winery’s commitment to practicing environmental methods that honor the land and the oft overlooked people working the land.
2013 Sauvion Vouvray, Loire Valley, France
I love Vouvrays. And this one has just the right amount of acidity, which gives the wine a liveliness that announces the great taste that awaits. I find Vouvray wines to very complex, and this is falls into the category. The flavors that jumped out at me were Fiji apple, lemon and apricot jam; some of my favorites found in a white wine.
And if you are wondering why you have never heard of this Vouvray grape, it’s because it is not a grape variety. It is a style of wine made in France’s Loire Valley using the Chenin Blanc grape. If you like Chardonnay that has been fermented in stainless tanks instead of oak, then you will love this wine as much as I do.
The Calling Chardonnay Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California $32
I knew I had to try this producer because I felt such a kinship with the co-owner Jim Nantz. Although an acclaimed sportscaster, Nantz had a yearning to do something in the wine industry. I, too had a “calling” to leave behind my financial services career to focus on wine education, along with wine and culinary travel services.
I’m not a big Chardonnay fan but I love this wine. (If I keep finding Chardonnay I love, I guess I’m going to have to stop saying this.) The fruitiness introduces a richness that is lip-smacking good. Don’t worry. It’s lush without being syrupy. And it begs to be opened on a fall evening. Once you taste the nutty and stone-fruit flavors, you will want to toss a log on the fire. Also, this complex wine is a perfect wine to bring to a fancy dinner this fall. (Hint: Thanksgiving) It will make you a wine-bringing superstar among your friends. It’s just that good.
Let me know if you try any of these white wines recommendations for your social gathering. I’d love to hear how my picks fared. Cheers!