As much as I think we have all been enjoying our summer rosé’s and crisp sauvignon blancs I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience a particular excitement when I witnessed a cool breeze blowing a few leaves from a tree earlier this week. Okay, okay, yes we have still been averaging weather in the low nineties everyday, even in Southern California, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming of full bodied cabernets and spicy tempranillos. In anticipation of cooler weather and heartier wines, I have made a list of some characteristics I personally look for in my fall wines!
The fuller the better.
Light, medium, and full body are all terms that get thrown around when it comes to wine, but what exactly does it mean? It comes down to alcohol percentage. Wines less than 12.5% are considered light bodied. These are going to be delicious rieslings, prosecco, Albarino, etc. When tasting these wines, you can hold the wine on your tongue and feel the physical weight of it. Light bodied wines will feel like you are holding skim milk in your mouth. Wines 12.5%-13.5% are considered medium bodied. A few of my favorite medium bodied wines are rosé, pinot noir, gamay, and heavier sauvignon blancs. These will feel similar to the weight of whole milk in your mouth. Full bodied wines are anything about 13.5% alcohol. These are more enjoyable in cooler weather (at least for me) due to the higher alcohol content, the richer flavours, and the food that they pair better with. When held in your mouth these full bodied wines will have a similar weight to a cream.
Bring on the spices.
While I love the crisp acidity the lighter white wines bring to the table (pun intended) there is a time and a place. When the weather cools, hold those hints of crisp green apple and give me something with prominent notes of allspice, tobacco, black and white pepper, and cloves. These flavours can be too heavy for warmer seasons, but are absolutely perfect for the fall and winter!
Deep, dark, dried fruits.
Citrus and fresh berries are great when the weather is warm, but when the air is crispy I want my wine to be anything but! Instead, I’m on the hunt for wines with dark cherries, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries.
The perfect pairing.
Building on fuller body with heavy flavour profiles, all of these characteristics are even more appropriate when considering the foods we tend to eat in fall and winter. To pair foods and wine remember a general rule of thumb- you want them to be on an equal playing field, meaning you want the flavours to have a similar strength so neither the food or wine is overpowering the other. A bowl of fruit makes sense in the summer and pairs perfectly with a delicious prosecco, however with heavy roasted squashes, pot roasts, and mashed potatoes right around the corner we need wines that can hold their own against these big flavour profiles. With my roasted butternut squash I want a chianti or chardonnay. If I’m preparing a pot roast I want to enjoy a cabernet or merlot. With hearty meat dishes or pastas (especially with red or cream sauces) I’ll be on the hunt for a syrah or zinfandel.
We may still have another month and a half of summer, but in my mind it is never too early to plan for the fall. I hope this list of what I look for in my cool weather wines helps make your season a little brighter!