It’s officially Fall now, and we shared some ideas with you about some nice labels that you may enjoy as an autumn wine. But many of you asked, “Does the change in seasons mean that I have to switch what kind of wine I drink?” Well, no. But yes. There are certain drinks, like spiced cider or eggnog, that seem to pair well with a particular holiday or season, but you should pick your wine for taste first, and appropriateness second.
We saw an interview with a clever and passionate fellow named Ray Walker. Walker was a real estate guy on the West Coast and not really much of a wine person. He met a nice girl, and decided to propose to her during a trip to Italy. It was in Italy that he first realized what a special thing that wine could be. He started tasting different wines from different regions, and a white Burgundy brought him his epiphany. It wasn’t about the wine or the alcohol or the label. It was about nature. When he closed his eyes, he could see the flowers, smell the soil, and hear the whisper of the wind through the vines. He experienced terroir.
Terroir is a French term, and generally speaking, means a sense of place. When referring to wine, it represents that sense of place that lent itself to the taste of your wine. The visual cue, the aroma, and the song it plays for you.
So Walker decided to uproot his new bride and his even newer daughter, and he moved to France. He found a little spot in Nuits-St.-Georges, just below Dijon (home of the fantastically wonderful mustard), and began making his own wine. He doesn’t have a fancy vineyard or expensive equipment. He has a handful of wooden barrels and a basement. He is also the first American to make Le Chambertin grand cru – kind of the Holy Grail of Burgundy.
And what does this have to do with autumn wines? Well, nothing. But everything.
As the weather turns colder, you may think that a shift to reds would be in order. No offense to Ray, but whites are still great choices for an autumn wine. Think about what you’re eating. A nice chardonnay with a buttery flavor would be perfect to wash down a cream sauce. The citrus bite of a Rhone wine would freely wash that creaminess from you tongue. The floral flavors of a Riesling would bring out the best in a crock of baked apples.
Perhaps a blush wine? Many confuse blush wines and rose wines. The same, but different. Roses are made by letting juice stay in contact with grape skins, while blush wines either use that process or mix white and red grapes. Many think of these wines as summer or picnic wines, but think of where you do that: the great outdoors. Having some salmon? Grab a blush. Going for Italian and some rich, red sauce? Balance with blush. Plate of stinky cheeses? Refresh your palate with some refreshing blush.
But let’s say that you’re going to follow Ray Walker’s path and go red. Could you go wrong with the silky black fruit tones of a Shiraz? What says Halloween more than the chocolate aroma of a nice Cabernet? What speaks harvest more than the leathery feel of a Malbec? And who doesn’t think of the Holidays when they find a hint of cinnamon in a Pinot?
Most important of all is that you pick a good autumn wine. But really, it could be any wine. Just think of Ray Walker and find the right terroir.