The air is crisp, the leaves are turning to blazing oranges and reds, and the scent of pumpkin spice latte is on the air. It can only mean one thing. It’s time to put away the light and refreshing, strawberry scented rosés in favor of fuller-bodied, more seasonally appropriate wines.
Before you crack open that big, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, there are quite a few other wines out there that pair particularly well with autumn. Think about wines that have characters of sweet baking spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – and wines that have flavors of honey, vanilla and apples. Here are a few recommendations that are as spicy and warm as that Starbucks PSL, but with a bit more of a kick.
1. 2015 Hugel Classic Gewurztraminer (Alsace, France), $20
Gewurztraminer is a gorgeous white wine that can be made dry, off dry or sweet. It is famous for its intense aromatics of rose, lychee and sweet spices, like ginger, cinnamon, allspice and honey. The 2014 Hugel Classic is a dry wine with just a touch of sweetness. It is rich and medium-bodied with ripe fruit flavors of pineapple, pear and apples, alongside aromas of smoked nuts and spice.
2. 2017 Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Sonoma, CA), $30
Although well-known for having bright, red fruit flavors and a lighter body, Pinot Noir also has sweet spice aromas of cloves, as well as characters of earth and damp leaves, reminiscent of a forest after an autumn rain. The Siduri Pinot Noir is a fuller-bodied style with flavors of cherry compote and cranberries, and notes of cinnamon, allspice and smoke.
3. 2017 Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz (Barossa Valley, Australia), $20
Shiraz from the Barossa Valley are some of the most powerful red wines in the world. The full-bodied yet smooth Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz lives up to this reputation with flavors of spicy dark cherry, blackberry, vanilla and dark chocolate, like drinking from a bag of Halloween candy.
4. 2009 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva (Rioja, Spain), $30
This powerful and elegant wine is made of 80% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, with autumn flavors of fig, dark cherry and walnuts. As a “Reserva” wine, it spent a significant amount of time aging in oak barrels (36 months for the Tempranillo and 30 months for the Grenache). The oak influence left its mark, imparting aromas of vanilla, leather, tobacco and cedar.
5. 2015 Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes, 315ml (Bordeaux, France), $35
Sauternes are arguably the best dessert wines in the world. They are made from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes affected by Noble Rot, a fungus that weakens the grape skins and causes the water inside the grapes to dehydrate, intensely concentrating sugars and flavors. This Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes has rich, sweet flavors of citrus, marmalade, ginger, honey and marzipan, perfect for pairing with an apple or pumpkin pie.