9 Must-Try Wines For Fall

Understandably, we’re in need of comfort. Comfort that goes beyond sweaters, binge-watching YouTube, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. We need wine. While we’re not quite ready for Cabernet Sauvignon, Sagrantino, or Tannat to carry us through winter, we need something more to get us through shorter days and all this…

While we may get some heat for not including traditional favorites, (We see you Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and we love you) here are the nine wines we’re bullish on this autumn.
Semillon White Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Sémillon

Fall isn’t just red wine season. It’s full-bodied white wine season too. This Bordeaux-borne grape is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, giving an otherwise lush, mouth-filling wine a welcome hint of zippiness to make an excellent white pour for those dark green fall veggies. Find one with some age or oak on it and be prepared for notes of honey, almond, and an unctuous texture.

  • Regions to Check Out: Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux; Napa and Sonoma, California; South Africa; Columbia Valley
  • Pro-Tip: While Australian varietals are similarly phenomenal, their leaner bodies may have you looking elsewhere for the fall season.

Examples:

Bordeaux Blanc – Chateau Haut-Rian

Columbia Valley Semillon – Maryhill Winery

Marsanne and Roussanne White Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Marsanne/Roussanne

Ah, the whites of the Northern Rhône. Yes, these are two different grapes with Marsanne being notably bigger-boned and Roussanne leaning on the more aromatic side. But, it really feels like you can’t have one without the other. They’re often blended together to make a rich, medium-to-full-bodied white with striking perfume aromas, creamy pear and nut flavors, and a downright filling finish.

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Examples:

Rhône Valley Paradis Saint-Pierre – Domaine Coursodon

Sierra Foothills Marsanne/Roussanne White Blend – Cobden Wini

Barbera Red Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Barbera

Though it doesn’t quite have the bonafides of Nebbiolo, Barbera is Northern Italy’s wine of the people and is never too far from a Piedmontese dining table. This wine can be a bit of a conundrum. Due to its pigmentation, it can taste both rich and light-bodied, offering the berry and cherry notes in bigger wines, but goes down like a treat, thanks to lively acidity. Oak-heavy styles have an extra touch of chocolate, vanilla and spice.

Examples:

South Coast Barbera – 2 Planks Winery

Le Orme “16 Mesi” – Michele Chiarlo

Dolcetto Red Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Dolcetto

We must be feeling Piedmont’s everyday drinkers, because we’re definitely sweet on Italy’s little sweet one. Despite the name, this wine is known for being on the dry side with more tannin than Barbera, but less acid. Expect delightfully fruity, licorice, and bitter sensations with this quaffable recommendation.

  • Regions to Check Out: Langhe, Piedmont; Lodi, California
  • Pro-Tip: Seek out Dolcetto di Dogliani, and Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore for a more elevated experience.

2016 Dolcetto – Klinker Brick

Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Rian – Cascina Bruciata

Carignan Red Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Carignan

Known for its cranberry, cured meat, and baking spice flavors, this affordable medium-bodied red is finally starting to shed its low-quality reputation. Many producers are reinvigorating old vineyards and making tremendous wines that pair so well with foods, the wine is practically its own ingredient. As Carignan vines are productive, you’d do well to seek out old vines where you can.

Orzada Carignan – Odfjell Vineyards

Alto Stratus – Abbotts Delaunay

Grenache (aka Garnacha) Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Grenache

When it comes to fall-friendly wines, this is arguably one of the friendliest. So much so that we wonder if it shouldn’t be in the obvious column. Character, of course, varies from region to region with raspberry and clove (Spain, Australia, U.S.A.) in some, and dried strawberry and herbs in others (France, Italy.) But really, it’s hard to go wrong, at least in our humble opinion. Occasionally, Grenache can be prone to a higher ABV, but hey, when it’s this cold, who’s complaining?

  • Regions to Check Out: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône; Cannonau-Sardinia; Paso Robles; Columbia Valley; South Australia; Aragon-Spain
  • Pro-Tip: The highly praised Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau Rayas, is 100% Grenache!

2017 Grenache – MCV Wines

2017 Grenache – Romon Roqueta

Grenache Syrah Mourvedre Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Rhône/GSM Blends

You love Grenache. You can’t get enough of all those berry and clove notes. But maybe you need something more. A little more tannin here, acidity there. Something a bit more robust to pair with a foggy, chilly night. Enter the classic GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) blend. Plush and opulent, one can expect additional flavors of lavender, baking spice, and even some green herbs.

Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu – Gabriel Meffre

2017 August Red – Folded Hills

Cabernet Franc Red Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Cabernet Franc

If you’ve just about had it with fruit-forward offerings, then Cabernet Franc is here to save your wine drinking day. Yes, you’ll still find strawberries and plums among the dominant flavors, but if you go the cool-climate route, you’ll also come across chili and bell pepper notes, as well as some peppercorns, making single-varietal Cabernet Francs one supple, savory enterprise.

2016 Cabernet Franc – Lava Gap

Chinon-Theleme – Pascal & Alain Lorieux

Zinfandel Wine Taste & Food Pairing Illustration by Wine Folly

Primitivo/Zinfandel

This wine right here, this is our jam—pun definitely intended. Though we are fans of the lighter, low-ABV styles with rose petal, sage, and black pepper flavors, it’s the richer styles that inspired us to write this article. Jam and smoke. Notes of cinnamon, raisin, chocolate, and tobacco. ABVs north of 15%. This, ladies, gentlemen, and aspiring oenophiles, is fall in a glass.

  • Regions to Check Out: Lodi, Napa Valley; Sonoma Valley; Sierra Foothills-California
  • Nah, That’s Too Rich for Me: Puglia, Italy

Vineyard Select Zinfandel – Dashe Cellars

2017 Lirica – Produttori di Manduria

OK, Wine Folly fam, you know we didn’t catch all of them. What else would you add to the list? Inquiring minds want to know.

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About Vincent Rendoni

I'm a spicy meatball who loves light-bodied reds, aromatic whites, video games, and for better or worse, Seattle sports teams. I was a huge fan of Wine Folly before being hired, so I guess you could say I'm living the dream.