The Top 12 Wine Varietals for Fall

The leaves are changing and so should your glass of vino! These 12 wines for fall are perfect for apple picking and pumpkin patch adventures.

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Colorful leaves, crisp air, and cozy fabrics can only mean one thing: Fall is here at last. Naturally, the new season calls for some new wines to match. Try these 12 wines for fall that are perfect for the cooling weather. That said, we’re going to get real for a moment: One of things we love about wine is that it never goes out of season. If you want to stick with your favorite wine all year round, there’s nothing wrong with that. But since you change your wardrobe for fall – hello, sweater weather – why not swap out your go-to wine also? You may discover a new favorite varietal. Plus, when you’re looking for a wine to pair with your fall favorites – hearty soups, harvest veggies, and pumpkin spice everything – you’ll want a bottle that’s slightly different from the one you sipped poolside at the height of summer. Here are the wines we are falling for this autumn.

What Makes a Wine Perfect for Autumn?

While summertime is all about light-bodied, sometimes low-ABV varietals that you can chill, autumn wants a warming wine that’ll help take the chill out of the air. That doesn’t mean you should stop chilling your wine bottles to their ideal temperature. It simply means choosing wines with warming flavor notes like jam and baking spices. BTW, this doesn’t mean you need to ditch your white wine and rosé until next year. On the contrary, now is a great time for rich white wines and zesty rosés, as well as light- to medium-bodied reds with tannins as silky smooth as your cashmere sweater. Wines that are aged in oak – whether red or white – are generally a good fit for fall weather because oak can impart notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Check out these top 12 wines for fall.

Top Wines for Fall

1. Pinot Noir

Bright Cellars Sophonisba Pinot Noir

This light-bodied red wine is the perfect way to ease into the new season, and now is the time to try a delicate variety made in Oregon, Washington, or France – where it’s called Bourgogne (aka Burgundy). Fruity and slightly earthy, Pinot Noir makes a perfect pairing for turkey chili or stuffed mushrooms. Our Sophonisba Pinot Noir is a great fall wine! Red fruit flavors of raspberry and cherry dominate, with vanilla and spice from oak aging.

2. Viognier

Pronounced vee-own-YAY, this white wine has a richness that’s similar to Chardonnay, plus aromatic notes of rose, honeysuckle, and mango. You’ll find single-varietal Viognier in New-World regions like California and Australia, but this grape hails from the Rhône Valley in France where it’s often blended with Marsanne and Roussanne. White Rhône blends have notes of golden apple, walnut, and cream, and make a perfect match for herb roasted chicken or baked sole.
Humdrum Viognier
Bright Cellars Humdrum Viognier

We recommend our Humdrum Viognier - a warm climate white with ripe, tropical fruit flavors on both the nose and palate.

3. Carignan

While you may not have heard of this medium-bodied red wine, Carignan (pronounced care-in-yen) is basically autumn in a bottle. With notes of cranberry, cured meat, and baking spices, Carignan pairs well with beef brisket, curried butternut squash, and Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Chardonnay

This popular white wine is great all year round, and now is the time to break out a bottle of the oaked variety. Rich and buttery with notes of poached pear, butterscotch, and vanilla, oaked Chardonnay pairs well with creamy pastas, seared scallops, and toasted nuts.
Chene Cremeaux Chardonnay

The Chêne Crémeux Chardonnay from Bright Cellars is rich and creamy, made in French fashion. This vino will make the perfect addition to any fall activity!

5. Merlot

Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon but slightly lighter in body, Merlot makes a great red wine for fall. With notes of plum, bay leaf, and vanilla, Merlot pairs well with short ribs, roast turkey, and rustic ratatouille.

6. Italian Rosé

As promised, rosé is still in season. Italian rosé (or rosado) is made with grapes like Sangiovese, Corvina, and Aglianico and is often darker in color because it has more time in contact with grape skins. As a result, Italian rosé has a more robust flavor. Its notes of tart cherry, orange zest, and baking spices make it a great pairing for herb-spiced risotto and fried zucchini.

7. Tempranillo

This medium-bodied red wine is all the rage in Spain. With notes of dried fig, earthy tobacco, and baking spices like cinnamon and cloves, Tempranillo is kind of like the wine equivalent of a pumpkin spiced latte. It pairs well with chili con carne, roast lamb, and baked ziti.

8. Chenin Blanc

A rich white wine that’s perfect for fall is Chenin Blanc. This medium-bodied white wine has notes of baked apple, lemon curd, and brioche, and it pairs well with pot pies, chicken tortilla soup, and roast turkey.
Batik Chenin Blanc - wines for fall
Bright Cellars' Batik Chenin Blanc

The Bright Cellars' Batik Chenin Blanc has flavor notes of green apple, honey, and pear. This vino's apple flavors are perfect for strolling through the apple orchard!

9. Cabernet Franc

The parent grape of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc has notes of bramble, bell pepper, and chili pepper, making it a great choice for fall. This food-friendly wine pairs well with portobello mushrooms, black bean soup, and sausage pizza.

We recommend our Grasp & Grabble Cabernet Franc - an elegant Cabernet Franc with flavors of raspberry and cranberry with white pepper and herbal bay leaf adding complexity.

10. Sémillon

This French grape makes a rich white wine with notes of almonds and honey. Sémillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, giving it a refreshing zippiness and making it a great fit for dark green fall veggies.

11. Beaujolais

This light red wine is another great transitional wine as the season begins to change. With mild tannins, light acidity, and bright notes of candied fruit, Beaujolais is the perfect pairing for your pumpkin carving party. It goes well with a range of foods from hearty pastas to steak tacos.

12. Zinfandel

This high-ABV red wine may just be the perfect fall wine. With notes of jammy fruit and smoke, plus a hint of cinnamon, raisin, and chocolate, Zinfandel pairs well with veal cutlets, barbecue chicken, and thin-crust pizza.

Our favorite Zin for fall is the Cabin 5 Zinfandel from Bright Cellars. This jammy wine has flavor notes of ripe fruit and crushed black pepper.


In Vino Finito

A new season calls for a new bottle of vino, no matter what kind of wine you like. Plus, the right wine brings out the best in your fall favorites. Need help choosing a bottle to go with your pumpkin-themed happy hour? Email us and we can help.
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