Put down the #PSL and pick up one of these.
If you’re anything like the Wine Folly crew, you’re lamenting the end of summer and all the white wines and pink drinks that go with it. (See you next year, Albariño, Rosé of Cabernet Franc, and you taco-friendly Verdejo. Thanks for the memories. Much love.)
Understandably, we’re in need of comfort. Comfort that goes beyond sweaters, binge-watching Netflix favorites, 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 rain (or, mental thunderclaps).
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 Checkout: 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.
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.
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.
- Regions to Checkout: Piedmont, Italy; Argentina; California
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 Checkout: Langhe, Piedmont; Lodi, California
- Pro-Tip: Seek out Dolcetto di Dogliani, and Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore for a more elevated experience.
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.
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 Checkout: 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!
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.
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.
- Regions to Checkout: Loire Valley; Colchagua Valley-Chile
- I Want More Fruit: Tuscany; Sierra Foothills-California
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 Checkout: Lodi, Napa Valley; Sonoma Valley; Sierra Foothills-California
- Nah, That’s Too Rich for Me: Puglia, Italy
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.