It’s no secret that fall is my absolute favorite season. During this time of year, you can catch me cooking up my favorite seasonally-inspired recipes from From Harvest to Home, while checking activities off my fall bucket list.
Is it just me, or, does the cold, chilly air just call for a crisp and savory wine to keep us warm and cozy? The beginning of a new season is the perfect time to switch up your wine rotation and try something new. If you’re on the hunt for a new fall favorite, stick around — because today, I’m going to share my favorite autumn wines.
But first, what makes for a good fall wine? Instead of the light, crisp flavors usually associated with summer wine, fall wines tend to be a bit more on the heavy and heart-warming side. Instead of sweet and refreshing undertones, you can expect more rich and savory elements.
It’s these rich and savory elements that make the wines on our list today ideal for the fall season. Wines with fall-forward flavors pair better with seasonal elements of fall like harvest veggies, hearty soups, and smoked meat, as opposed to other varieties that tend to pair better with other sweet and citrusy options.
With that in mind, let’s dive into my roundup of the best wines for fall — all of which pair great with the heart-warming flavors of the season.
13 Best Wines For Fall
Ease into the fall season with a glass of Pinot Noir. Oak-aged with hints of raspberry, cherry, and vanilla, the flavor profile of Pinot Noir not only tastes like fall, but it smells like fall too. Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine with an earth aroma, similar to roses. But with a crispness that is reminiscent of those cooler summer nights. Pair with roasted turkey or chicken, or your favorite fall-inspired casserole.
Fun fact: the state grape of Virginia is a Viognier, and I was introduced to it while living on the East Coast! This grape is originally from the Rhône Valley in France, Viognier is a white wine often compared to Chardonnay. Aromatic hints of apple, honeysuckle, and rose make Viognier the perfect addition to any holiday meal. Medium to full bodied with flavors of honey, Viognier always pairs well with seasonal vegetables. Think carrots, turnips, green beans, parsnips, and so on.
With crisp, acidic notes of apple and lemon, here’s another white wine that will remind you of apple picking, pumpkin patches, and all things fall. Chenin Blanc is a medium-bodied wine, brought to us by the Loire Valley. The rich taste pairs great with pot pies, roast turkey, creamy chicken, and buttery-flakey fish.
Planning an autumn bonfire soon? Break out a bottle of Pinot Blanc. Also commonly compared to Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc is a medium to full-bodied white wine with bright flavors and high acidity. Reminiscent of autumn orchard fruits, you can expect a delicious flavor profile with hints of apple, pears, and even lemon. Like other full-bodied wines, Pinot Blanc pairs well with many fall-inspired appetizer dishes – onion tarts, quiche, salads, soft cheeses, and more.
With beautiful fall foliage all around, it’s only fitting to indulge in red wine during this time of year. Merlot is a medium-full bodied wine that gives notes of vanilla and plum. Because Merlot is a relatively dry wine with medium acidity, it pairs well with both light and dark meats, and most seasonal vegetables. You’ll also find that Merlot pairs well with cheese and pasta.
Mostly from Southern France, Spain, and the island of Sardinia, Carignan is a medium-bodied red wine. With fall-inspired aromas, like cinnamon, raspberry, and cranberry, Carignan is an excellent addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Pair with roasted turkey, duck, or chicken, and be sure to include roasted vegetables, like butternut squash, pumpkin, and/or eggplant.
Cabernet Sauvignon is similar to Merlot, but heavier in body. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red blend with flavors reminiscent of dark red fruit. And like many other wines, oak-barrel aging gives this wine a distinct vanilla aroma. This wine is often used in sauces and reductions, and pairs excellently with red meat, such as prime rib and filet mignon.
Cabernet Franc takes on hearty fall notes, such as bell pepper, chili pepper, and bramble. From the parent grape of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied red wine that pairs well with many foods. In fact, this wine is considered “food-friendly”, and thus can be paired with anything from traditional autumn dishes to pizza.
Although Chardonnay is a popular single varietal year-round, oak-aged varieties of this wine become even more popular during the fall season. With notes of vanilla, Chardonnay can take on a variety of fruit-forward flavors. Think apple, lemon, papaya, pineapple, and more – very easy to drink. To further accentuate the rich and buttery taste, pair with creamy pastas and seared seafood.
With an earthy tobacco aroma, and flavors reminiscent of cedar, black currant, and plum, Red Bordeaux is the perfect hearty wine for fall. Depending on the quality and vintage, the fruit flavors will range from tart to sweeter. This wine pairs well with food options like filet mignon, pot roast, mushrooms, lentils, and casserole.
Tempranillo is a medium-full bodied wine that is considered very dry. In general, Tempranillo offers a mix of fruit and herb-inspired flavors. For example, you will experience notes of cherry, raspberry, and plum, as well as dried tomato, herb, and olive. Tempranillo pairs exceptionally well with Mexican cuisine, such as chile rellenos. But, you can also pair with grilled or smoked meats.
Just the aroma of a good Zinfandel can get you excited for the fall season. With notes of blackberry, cherry, plums, black pepper (and other baking spices), and cinnamon, Zinfandels are known for their combination of fruity, spicy, and smoky flavors. As a full-bodied red wine, Zinfandel pairs perfectly with roasted seasonal vegetables, smoky grilled fish, and blue cheese.
Usher in the fall season with a delicious autumn wine.
What is your favorite wine to drink in the fall? Let me know in the comments below! Check back weekly for more in all things travel, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty.
P.S: If you’re in need of a little fall wine tasting outfit inspiration, click here.
Photos by Tom McGovern