Between lazy football Sundays and crisp falling leaves, we’re definitely getting that warm, fuzzy feeling that fall is here. And our taste buds are no strangers to the cozy suppers and weekend tailgates that lie ahead. When we’re craving something more substantial, but not quite as committal as a big red (think, an easy match for chili, butternut squash, or an apple pie) we turn to bright, light red wine types. Here, five tried-and-true, “fall-y” red wine recs from your wine club experts, to make the most of pumpkin season.
Frappato, Italy’s red wine innovation
In Italy, Sicily is special. Its Mediterranean-influenced coast and old markets are seductive and storied--but its wine is innovative and fresh. Take young superstar winemaker Arianna Occhipinti, for example, who’s risen to the top of the Frappato a-list with her experiments in organic and unfiltered methods. Made with the thin-skinned Gamay grape, her low-tannin, soft bottles are layered with fresh dried cherry and crisp fruit (pizza’s perfect match). If Sicily needs proof of their red wine greatness, this is most definitely it.
Zinfandel, the local jam
When sweet potatoes and turkey are on the menu (and they better be, it’s fall), Zinfandel is the best red wine go-to. It’s jammy and juicy, with a hint of pepper to please any dinner party guest. When picking the right bottle, we’re huge fans of Chris Condos natural winemaking practices (he’s a global leader in advanced organics), and his Independent Zinfandel, from Lodi, sings all the praises of fall.
Beaujolais, the French favorite
Let’s face it: We love the French, attitude and all. And the longstanding French sweet red wine favorite, Beaujolais, bottles the effortless francophone style and passion in a flowery, light, easy drinker. It’s made from the thin-skinned Gamay grape, and bottled with very little tannin, but lots of excitement. For quality and value, look for bottles from the legendary Georges Duboeuf--he’s been the Beaujolais namesake for more than 40 years. Try it with a fall salad, roasted squash, or even an apple pie.
Grenache, the date night pleaser
Amongst red wine types, Grenache is, in one word: elegant. When done right, Grenache is that super-satisfying combination of roundness and spice, without ever being too heavy. Our recent obsession is the 2016 QTY, an authentic labor of love from El Dorado, California, and exclusive to our monthly wine club. Hand-picked grapes aged in French oak create a fullness with lots of deep fruit, and a tad of rich spice. And it’s something special, with only 12 barrels made. We love the QTY with pork chops or pumpkin soup.
Barbera, join the cult
While a little lesser known in the States, Barbera is so popular in Italy that it makes up one-third of Piedmont’s planted red wine wvines--and it’s on pretty much every Italian dinner table. We opt for the classic, herb-and-cherry filled Tempo Vero Barbera: it’s down-to-earth, no-fuss, from a highly-regarded DOC Piedmont vineyard, and happens to make cheese quesadillas and bratwurst on football Sunday extra delish!