Chapter 4: Fall Wines
Not the biggest fan of the heat of summer? That’s OK. Fall is just around the corner. As the leaves begin to change, and you start to settle into your fall routine, you have the perfect opportunity to shake up your wine cellar selections a bit.
With a warm, bitter and rich profile, a fall wine makes the perfect pair with cooler weather and cozy nights spent inside. You may know of ciders and other beverages that come out when the leaves change, but if you’ve never given thought to what bottle of wine to buy in autumn, we can help.
Few things beat an excellent glass of wine in autumn. While taking care of stocking your wine selections for fall, remember you may be enjoying your choices while attending football and tailgating parties, Halloween celebrations, Thanksgiving, hayrides and bonfires. What could be more fun?
Fall activities, holidays and celebrations make the perfect pairing for specific wines. You only have to know what to choose. When it comes to picking out the best fall wines, we have tips on selecting the perfect ones for the season — and even how to use them in seasonal cocktails.
Autumn Wine: What to Consider While Shopping
While summer wines are often centerpieces of celebrations, in the fall, wine becomes more of an accent. Pairing wines properly with foods and events is more important this season than during other times of the year.
It might feel like pumpkin is the theme of the season for many foods, beverages and other products — to the tune of a $500 million-a-year industry. That’s not necessarily true when it comes to wines.
With fall wines, you’ll see much more in the way of tannins — they become an excellent focal point as seasons change. These elements naturally occur in plants, seeds, wood, bark and fruit skins — like grapes. Indeed, 50% of the dry weight of plant leaves and skins are tannins. In wine, tannins create bitterness and complexity, which is commonly — but not exclusively — found in red wines. White wines aged in wooden barrels can occasionally contain these bitter notes because wood has naturally occurring tannins.
Some individuals love “bitter” or dry wines, while others do not. In the fall, however, tannins may add an extra layer of warmth that could be more enjoyable than other times of the year. The flavor profiles of many of the wines that are best for fall may contain higher levels of tannins than sweeter varieties enjoyed during the summer.
Rosé, Red and White: Where Should You Start?
Generally, you should consider wines that have spicy, fruity and dry notes when purchasing beverages for the fall. Rosé, red and white wines come in many varieties that offer these qualities. So whether you’re a fan of a specific color of wine, or are looking to expand your cellar collections, autumn wines have something for every taste.
You may think pink wines are only for warm summer days, but rosé wines are versatile regardless of the season. A few varieties worth considering include the following.
- Syrah blend rosé wines: Find a deeper, spicier take on more traditional berry-forward rosés with these blends. They might accompany a variety of dishes you enjoy during the fall, but they can also stand well on their own for evening drinks. With a flavor profile that includes spices of fall like star anise and clove, syrah wines can help you transition smoothly from summer to autumn.
- Bordeaux rosés: These blends provide the lighter finish fans of rosé wines search for, only with a more sophisticated taste. Their complexity makes them excellent transitional wines for the season.
- Grenache rosés: Depending on the region of their creation, these wines can have notes of cloves or herbs paired with something fruity. Serve one of these rosés on the side of roasted meat and vegetables, and you’ve got yourself the perfect autumn meal.
Other than middle-of-the-road rosés, you can find plenty of options on either end of the spectrum. If you’re searching for the best fall white wines, look no further than these delectable options.
- Roussanne wine: This option might surprise even your most seasoned wine-loving friend, because it’s less common in the States. The wine has a balance of exotic spice flavors and other less familiar flavors, and usually features a blend of different grapes. It’s a perfect complement to fall dishes like roast meats and hearty sides.
- Semillon wines: If you’re a fan of sauvignon blanc, you may find Semillon to be a comparable companion with a slightly richer flavor. Fall fruits, like pear, accompany these wines, making them perfect for fall events and everyday enjoyment.
- Gewürztraminer: While gewürztraminers are typically one of the first wines released each year in early spring, they’re perfect for fall consumption. These wines feature floral undertones with added spice during the aging process, making them one of the best white wines for fall as a companion to hearty dishes.
We cannot forget or overlook lovers of red wines, though, especially during fall, as these wines make a popular resurgence. The options feel practically endless when it comes to fall red wines, so while shopping, consider the following factors.
- Beaujolais: Made from the Gamay grape, Beaujolais wine adds distinct, deep berry flavors while balancing a more acidic base. Since this variety is still light in tannins, it’s the perfect transition between summer and winter.
- Dolcetto varieties: Wines made from the Dolcetto grape feature deep black cherry flavors and more leathery textures, which are perfect as you transition from long summer nights to crisp fall evenings. These wines often include a variety of grapes, but the resulting flavor is almost always appropriate for the season with bitter notes of flavors like licorice.
- Merlot wines: Find tannins, notes of cherry and other warm flavors in this variety of autumn red wines. Choose a bottle of merlot with a bouquet that evokes spices of fall, such as clove or anise, for the perfect glass to end an autumn day.
The wines you choose for fall do not have to be the exact varieties we’ve named above, but consider their profiles and look for similar ones. We also have some general tips for you to keep in mind as you choose autumn wines.
Choosing the Best Wines to Drink in the Fall
When selecting a wine, your preferences should lead the way. If you want to branch out and experience different flavors, consider a new season the best time to do so! Autumn is a time for change, after all.
As you search for the best fall wine, think about factors such as:
- What you’re eating
- The flavor profiles you gravitate toward
- If you’ll be using it in a mixed drink
- The color of wine you prefer
Some fall wines are best to accent a hearty meal, while others shine in a mixed drink served at your seasonal parties. Think about what occasion the wine is for — even if it’s just for you to sip while staying in on a cold night! Consider the time of the season, as well, when choosing wines for autumn. Start fall with lighter and brighter wines to transition you out of summer. As the summer days grow further away and winter approaches, opt for autumn wines that will warm you into the colder months.
No matter the time of the season, food plays an essential role in the fall, from casual get-togethers while watching sports to more formal celebrations and a Thanksgiving meal. Choose a rosé like syrah or grenache to pair with your turkey. Many autumn wines will pair deliciously with hearty sides, as well, making them an excellent accent to your meals on cooler nights.
Best Fall Wines to Stock up On
Ready to create your fall wine list with a few specific options to try this year? Not a problem. Check out the following:
- Axel Des Vignes Rosé Bordeaux, France, 2017
- Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Australia, 2015
- Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer, New York, 2017
- Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees L’ancien Beaujolais, France, 2017
- Pecchenino San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani, Italy, 2014
- Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Merlot, Washington, 2016
If you can’t find one of the exact wines we’ve recommended above, don’t worry. Remember to look for flavor profiles with fruits and spices of fall along with warm, rich and dry varieties of wine. Once you have your autumn selections, you could drink a glass alongside your favorite meal or while staying in from the cold, or you could transform your wine into mixed drinks that bring out their fall flavors.
What to Do With Fall Wines
You’re probably thinking, “Drink them, of course!” While you could grab your favorite wine glass and sip some red, white or rosé, there’s no reason not to get creative during autumn. You can make countless fall wine cocktails that pair perfectly with the season. Make them for holiday parties, get-togethers or enjoy them while cozying up in your favorite fall sweater.
When it comes to cocktails, liquor shouldn’t get to have all the fun. Many mixed drinks for fall include warmer liquors like brandy or whiskey, but wine can just as easily become the star. We’ve gathered a few beverage recipes below that include wines you’ll want to choose for fall.
1. Grand Sangria
Sangria’s mix of wine, liqueur, fruit, sweetener and occasionally soda for some bubbles is a summer staple. Grand sangria takes the mixed drink reserved for hot days and carries it into fall with warm, but still refreshing, flavors. Here’s what you need to make it:
- One chilled bottle of merlot
- Half a cup of Grand Marnier liqueur
- One cup of grapes
- Two sliced lemons
- One sliced orange
- One red and one green apple, cut into wedges
- Two cinnamon sticks
- One cup of orange juice
- One tablespoon of sugar
To make this sangria, combine the Grand Marnier, grapes, sliced oranges and lemons, apple wedges, cinnamon sticks and sugar. Once that mixture has rested for about an hour, add orange juice and the merlot wine. The dry, red wine makes a great addition to this fruity fall cocktail. Since you can mix up this drink in a punch bowl, it’s perfect for fall festivities.
2. Rosé Sangria
Another sangria takes a lighter wine and mixes it with fruits of fall. Though this drink is a bit more complex, it is worth the effort to reminisce about the warm days with a typical summer drink adapted for autumn. Gather these ingredients to create your own:
- Three-fourths of a cup of spiced syrup*
- One bottle of rosé
- One-third of a cup of ruby port
- One-third of a cup of Cointreau liqueur
- One-third of a cup of cranberry juice
- Two cups of cranberries, soaked in spiced syrup
- Two green apples, diced and soaked in spiced syrup
Combine the spiced syrup with the rosé, port, Cointreau liqueur and cranberry juice. Top this delicious cocktail with soaked cranberries and diced apples. Chill before drinking and serve over ice for a cool sangria that reminds you of summer days.
*To create the spiced syrup, combine equal parts of water and sugar — one cup each — in a saucepan. Stir in one cinnamon stick, two pinches of crushed red pepper, four allspice berries, three cloves and one pod of star anise. After simmering for 15 minutes, strain into a bowl and add the two cups of cranberries and two diced green apples. Refrigerate overnight and, once you’re preparing the sangria, strain out the fruit from the syrup and reserve it for the drink. Measure out three-fourths of a cup of the spiced syrup and add it to the sangria.
3. 1870 Sour Cocktail
For iconic tastes of fall mingled in one drink, try the 1870 sour cocktail. Whiskey may seem to have the spotlight in this beverage, but we think the real star is the white zinfandel wine on top. You can even serve the drink in a Bordeaux wine glass. You’ll need the following ingredients to make the 1870 sour cocktail:
- Two ounces of whiskey
- One ounce of white zinfandel
- One ounce of lemon juice
- Three-fourths of an ounce of maple syrup
- One teaspoon of blueberry jam
- One egg white
Shake together all the ingredients except for the zinfandel. After 10 seconds, add ice and shake for another 15 seconds. Strain into your glass, then float the wine on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon. The result is a stronger cocktail perfect for keeping you warm on cool nights, with fall flavors like sweet maple syrup accenting the float of wine.
4. Red Wine Hot Chocolate
You may have paired chocolate and wine before, but this drink combines them into one warm and comforting union. We see this beverage as a great transition from late fall into winter — or as the perfect excuse to drink your wine with chocolate! The ingredients list is as simple as the drink is delicious:
- Six ounces of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
- One-third of a cup of fruity red wine
- One cup of milk
- One pinch of salt
- Sugar for serving
Take any variety of fruity red wine — like pinot noir, Beaujolaisor merlot — and simmer it with the chocolate over low heat. Add milk and a pinch of salt to complete this grown-up hot chocolate. Serve with sugar on the side if you’re a fan of sweeter chocolate drinks. You could even experiment with different types of chocolate to see what goes best with your favorite red wine.
5. Autumn Bellini
With a syrup evoking the flavors of mulled cider, this drink captures the taste of fall with a splash of a lighter wine. Traditional Bellinis use peach, but the autumn version switches that fruit for fig. Create this drink for brunch in the fall with these ingredients:
- Two and one-half ounces of mulled cider syrup*
- One ounce of fig vodka
- Twelve ounces of chilled Prosecco wine
Shake the syrup and vodka together with ice. Strain the mix into two champagne glasses and top with your favorite Prosecco. If you aren’t a fan of figs, you can always experiment with different flavors. Try pear-flavored vodka instead of fig to keep that fall fruit inspiration, or experiment with the classic peach flavors of a Bellini while using the mulled cider syrup to keep your drink in season.
*To make mulled cider syrup, bring one cup of apple cider to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the cider reduces by half. Add four cloves, two green cardamom pods, two pods of star anise, two sticks of cinnamon and one-half teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Remove the mix from the heat, let it cool and strain it. Try this syrup in some of your favorite cocktails to give them an autumn flair.
The above recipes are just the beginning of using fall wines in mixed drinks. From spiced spins on classic cocktails to completely new creations, you’re sure to find a use for your seasonal wine. If you’re looking for the quintessential autumn wine recipe, you’ll want to make mulled wine.
Mulled Wine Recipes for Autumn
Take those fall wine selections and turn them into something even warmer and cozier. If you’ve never had or made mulled wine, recipes center on:
- Wine, typically red
- Liquor, usually brandy
- Fall and winter fruits
- Optional sweeteners like honey or maple syrup
All you need to do is combine the ingredients into a pot to simmer until the flavors mingle and create a tasty autumn concoction. Some recipes even use a slow cooker to heat and serve mulled wine out of, perfect for seasonal parties.
Nothing says autumn like cinnamon, cranberries, apples and other seasonal spices and fruits. Combine those flavors with different varieties of wine, and you have yourself a delicious spiced or mulled wine. You can even mix in your favorite fruits and spices, playing around with different flavors that aren’t in the usual mulled wine recipe. We’ve found some recipes you may find inspirational.
- Cranberry orange mulled wine: Cranberry and orange create the classic autumn pairing. Mix honey, cloves and cinnamon sticks with a classic cabernet sauvignon for a spiced wine perfect to pair with your Thanksgiving meal.
- Mulled white wine: Replacing the typical red wine with a dry white wine, this recipe still uses the traditional blend of brandy, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and oranges, along with honey or sugar.
- Cranberry pomegranate mulled wine: Introducing pomegranate juice to pinot noir, cranberry and orange juices, apple brandy and mulling spices creates an extra layer of tart, yet sweet, flavor in this recipe. Top with cranberries and orange slices for that classic mulled cider look.
Mulled wine makes the perfect addition to any party, since you can make it in large batches. Serve any of these mulled wines cold for an autumn-inspired sangria that’s perfect for the beginning of the season.
Stock up on Autumn Wines With Marketview Liquor
If you’re ready to embrace the changing seasons and stock up on fall wines, you’ll find them at Marketview Liquor. Order from our selection of wines and have them delivered right to you — no need to venture out in the cold weather! Select varieties of our wine are eligible for free shipping when you order six or more bottles, as well. Need to stock up even more? Get ready for the season, or give the gift of the best fall wines with our case discount. Mix and match select bottles of wine to suit everyone’s taste, whether you’re entertaining or experimenting with the cocktail recipes above. No matter what you make with your autumn reds, whites and rosés, we will help you find what you need.