Wine appreciation has a long, torturous history of words that make about as much sense as a Gary Busey oration. Among them are such beauties such as “jangy,” “crushed earthworms,” and “sweaty saddle,” which I once heard at a tasting and it stumped me for years. Then there's Septembral, a poetic word for autumn and the cooler weather and richer, earthier food that come with it. These six wines fit the Septembral (and even Novembral) theme.
Pinot Gris from Oregon: Instead of the more summery, bantam-weight Pinot Grigio from Italy, the same grape from Oregon is a bit creamier, with more pear-honeydew personality. It is able to stand up to richer fish preparations like Giada’s Swordfish Panini With Arugula and Lemon Aioli.
Chardonnay: Though wine hipsters like to criticize big, fruit-forward versions of Chardonnay, the chilly days of fall welcome the medium- to full-bodied, smoky charms of this enduringly popular grape. It is a natural fit for crab cakes, grilled salmon and roast chicken.
Viognier: Like Chardonnay, Viognier (Vee-ohn-yay) brings a voluptuous body to the table, often with pronounced notes of tropical fruits and flowers. Seafood bisques, cream sauces, pork and ham preparations, and dishes accented with autumnal staples such as apples, cranberries and squash can be perfect pairings.
Dolcetto: In honor of late fall being white-truffle season in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, look to the same location for Dolcetto, a juicy, cherry-cranberry red of light to medium weight. Lighter meats like chicken and veal as well as antipasto of all sorts are soulmates of Dolcetto. Pizza and any pasta you might infuse with truffle oil or butter, such as the Barefoot Contessa’s Tagliarelle With Truffle Butter, are great fits as well.
Pinot Noir: It doesn’t get much more autumnal than the juicy berry kiss of Pinot Noir. Its cherry-raspberry perfume is often joined by an earthy quality reminiscent of mushrooms or autumn leaf piles. With a medium weight and ample acidity, it is the perfect match for comfort food like chicken pot pie, pork chops or chili burgers.
Chianti: You’ll ward off the autumn chill by looking to Tuscany and finding this famous red that’s a source of sour cherry and savory spice on a medium-weight frame. Good Chianti never met a tomato-based Italian classic it didn’t like, including lasagna, chicken cacciatore and the Italian bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro.
Mark Oldman is a wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the hit series The Winemakers.