Choosing the Best Wine Varieties for Fall

Autumn mulled wine in mug

As we leave behind the heat of summer and embrace the chill of autumn, the crisp flavors of light wine take a backseat to the complex flavor profile of full-bodied wines. However, unless you’re a seasoned wine aficionado, you’ll likely have trouble discerning the correct flavors to satisfy your fall wine craving. This article will show you how to pinpoint your ideal flavor profiles and level of wine ABV (alcohol by volume) to find your perfect fall variety.

Choosing the Best Fall Wine

Tasting the Difference Between Light and Full-Bodied Wine

Differentiating between the flavor profiles of light wines and full-bodied wines is an acquired skill. As you explore different varieties of wine, your palette will become more sensitive, and analyzing the finer note of wine will eventually become second nature.

Gathering the following information about your chosen wine will make it much easier for you to analyze:

Wine ABV: Wine with an ABV above 14% tends to taste much more full-bodied.

Tannin Levels: Light wines tend to be smoother due to reduced tannins (a group of bitter compounds found in many plants), while full-bodied wines are sharper. Higher tannin levels give wine an astringent flavor, which is commonly associated with clear alcohols.

Wood Barrel Variety: Wine aged in oak barrels tastes more full-bodied due to the intricate flavors infused by the wood.

Climate Type: Grapes grown in warmer climates produce wines with a heavier and richer flavor profile.

Using this information, you can begin looking for certain wine flavors to determine whether your wine is light or full-bodied. In addition, you can also use common flavor profiles to distinguish between the two.

Common Flavor Profiles Found in Light Wines

  • Citrus Fruit (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange)
  • Stone Fruit (peach, nectarine, plum, apricot, apple, pear)
  • Tropical Fruit (mango, pineapple, passion fruit, kiwi)
  • Light Berries (strawberry, cherry, raspberry)
  • Florals (rose, lily, jasmine, gardenia)

Common Flavor Profiles Found in Full-Bodied Wines

  • Dark Berries (black cherry, black currant, marionberry, blueberry, black raspberry)
  • Complex Fruits (fig, açaí, prune, raisin)
  • Tart Fruits (cranberry, persimmon,
  • Earthiness (smoke, peat, herbs, leather, mushroom, petrichor)
  • Baking Spices (cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, honey)

The Best Varieties of Fall Wine

While many people believe all red wines are full-bodied and all white wines are light, the truth isn’t that simple. These two qualities can be present in any variety of wine, depending on how the wine is produced.

It is true that red wines will generally be heavier and more complex than white wine and will showcase more depth of flavor due to the grapes used. However, many varieties of white wine contain the rich flavor profiles and ABV necessary to classify them as full-bodied.

The following varieties of both red and white are a great place to start when searching for a deliciously complex fall wine:

Chardonnay: This golden wine is often aged in oak barrels, giving it a warm and nutty flavor perfect for fall.

Pinot Noir: The common wine flavor profiles of Pinot Noir (earthy, floral, warm, tart) make it a delicious wine year-round, but it’s compatible with colder air and heavier fall foods.

Merlot: A sweet wine with medium levels of tannins, the mellow flavor profiles of merlot make it easy to sip and enjoy.

Zinfandel: Hearty, spicy, and peppery are wine flavor profiles commonly associated with Zinfandel, which makes it the perfect fall wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Richly warm and often found with a sharp dose of acidity, the wine flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly complement fall weather.

Syrah: Robust, smoky, and herbaceous, Syrah is a bold wine with flavor profiles that mimic the harvest season.

We’ve dedicated ourselves to developing an expert understanding of wines and their associated flavor profiles. Whether you’re a red or a white wine drinker, you’re sure to find the perfect fall refreshment for your palette by following these tips.

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