Afraid to wear white after Labor Day? Forget that dated old rule; the new laws of style dictate that there are no laws. As for wine? The onset of fall tends to make wine drinkers see red. But it's time to ignore that old instinct too, and drink white all year—as long as you choose wines that help create the vibe you're craving.
As the weather cools down, many of us reach for stronger wines that will go with the heavier, gut-warming foods of the season. Spicier or richer wines become more enticing—but plenty of white wines have those characteristics too, and pair beautifully with fall and winter foods.
You'll want to look for wines made in regions known for producing whites of higher flavor and concentration. “Creamy, oaky whites from California come to mind, as do Viogniers and white blends from California’s Paso Robles," as Mark Oldman, author of the forthcoming How to Drink Like a Billionaire: Mastering Wine with Joie de Vivre, tells The Feast. "Another key area for heftier whites is the Rhone Valley, where Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and Hermitage Blanc have a round, almost oily quality that warms chilled bones. France's Alsace region is also known for its richer whites that sometimes hint of warming apricots and spice," he adds.
Photo courtesy of Albert Mann.
Some great white wines to look for in fall, suggests Oldman, are floral, perfume-y Viogniers; richer-style Chardonnays; the Rhone varietals Roussane and Marsanne; and spicy, rose-water-scented Gewürztraminer. As for certain white bottles you might pick up in summer, such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc: Those are typically so light and tangy, you're better off saving them for the warm seasons and the foods with associate with balmier weather (but that's just a rule of thumb; drink whatever makes you happy). One summer wine that, perhaps surprisingly, makes a great cool-weather choice too? Rosé. “Despite its summery reputation, Rosé is perfectly suited to the cooler seasons. It's versatile, medium-weight, and able to stand up to the cozy comfort foods we associate with fall and winter,” says Oldman.
Photo courtesy of Viña Cobos.
If you're ready to break out the white wines come chillier weather, but you're not sure how to work them into your weeknight meals or dinner party menus, Oldman recommends these pairings:
Mac 'n cheese with a creamy, spicy Chardonnay, like Viña Cobos "Felino" Chardonnay Mendoza 2014 (Chile, $16).
Salmon with a tropically scented, zesty white blend, like The Girls In The Vineyard Field Blend 2013 (California, $20).
Buttery chicken pot pie with a velvety, peachy Viognier from California or France, such as Zaca Mesa Viognier Santa Ynez Valley 2014 (California, $18).
Sweet potato or butternut squash soup with a spicy, creamy Gewurtraminer from Alsace, such as Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2014 (Alsace, $22).
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