As we step out of summer sunshine and slowly meander towards the depth of winter, wine drinkers across Australia get to enjoy the nuanced season of autumn. It’s that time of year when change is everywhere and the wine choices can be as varied as the days themselves.
So, what is a good autumn wine? Our expert Panellist and Co-Chair, Adam Walls, provides his insights into the types of reds that suit the cooling temperatures and discusses the white wines that impress during this transitional season.
What is a good white wine to drink in autumn?
Riesling is renowned for its backbone of mouth-watering acidity. It is true that Riesling is a perfect wine for the hotter months, however, don’t discount its potential to be one of the go-to varieties to drink throughout autumn. Across most of the country we are blessed with a mild start to autumn, the days are full of sunshine and warmth, and Riesling’s ability to be really refreshing is perfect for sipping during daytime feasting and relaxing.
But even as the temperatures start to drop as the sun sets, Riesling becomes the perfect accompaniment to the slightly richer styles of food that autumn ushers in. The acidity, again, is key as it helps cut through the richness of the food.
Adam: “Riesling has this unique ability to transcend the seasons. Warm autumn days call for a refreshing glass of crisp energetic Riesling, while it perfectly contrasts the richer foods that become a signature of the cooler nights.”
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Chardonnay comes in many shapes and sizes. The style that has emerged today is all about letting the fruit take centre stage with other elements such as oak taking a supportive role. This medium-bodied style is the perfect match to autumn’s classic characteristics.
We naturally look for more weight in our wines once we sense the cool change in the air and Chardonnay not only gives us this extra fruit weight, but also offers a creamy texture to boot.
Adam: “There is a style of Chardonnay to suits all seasons, occasions and tastes. We crave comfort from our food and wine when the weather gets cold and Chardonnay can offer comfort, weight and flavour generosity that perfectly suits the season.”
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What is a good red wine to drink in autumn?
The famed red grape of Tuscany – an area renowned for producing wines that are as savoury as they are fruit-focused. This savouriness is the key to helping Sangiovese pair with the earthier flavours we see creeping into our cuisine at this time of year.
In addition, Sangiovese has slightly higher levels of acidity compared to many other red grape varieties and this enables it to be a perfect match with richer slow-cooked dishes.
Adam: “Sangiovese is a fabulous variety to sip, but it is its natural affinity with comfort food classics like pasta, pizza and Ragu that make it a must have over the autumn months.”
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Grenache is one of the most popular varieties at the moment with many of the straight varietal wines being beautifully perfumed and elegant. But of course, Grenache also shines as the leading force in perfectly balanced red blends, such as the classic coupling with Shiraz and Mourvèdre (Mataro) or better known as GSM.
Grenache blends such as this offer the elegance and perfume of Grenache with the spice and power of the more robust Shiraz and Mourvèdre, and this extra muscle helps the wine to not only offer comfort against the cold, but to complement the richer and fuller flavoured autumn fair. Don’t discount these wines for lunchtime enjoyment as well, they are perfectly matched to autumn sunshine and lighter-style lunches.
Adam: “Autumn offers a blend of warmer and cooler weather. Mirror this fusion in your wine selection and opt for a Grenache blend that skirts the med-weight to full-bodied spectrum. Supple enough to sip for an afternoon drink, full bodied enough to pair with a myriad of comfort food dishes.”
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In the warmer months of summer, we look for lighter bodied wines. In the depths of winter, we look for full-bodied wines. Where do medium weight wines sit? Autumn of course. Autumn weather can be unpredictable and can vary from warm to cool conditions in the same day – and this is the type of weather that Merlot shines in.
It is a classic medium-bodied red variety, loved for its smooth texture and ease of sipping. Today’s Merlots are better than ever with our winemakers being able to tease out more structure and length of flavour than ever before.
Adam: “Merlot has a reputation for being simple and easy to drink. Forgot the simply tag, as the best ones like this one are full of interest yet they are still easy to drink. They offer fruit weight and flavour that helps ward off the chilly weather and suit the best comfort food dishes.”
ADAM’S PICK: IRVINE MERLOT 2020
Find out more about pairing Autumn Wines with Autumn style foods.