Monday, November 3, 2014

Wines for the Fall Foliage: Red, Green and Yellow Wines Reminiscent of Leaves for the Holidays

By Liza B. Zimmerman


It is only after having lived almost a decade on the West Coast that I realize how much I miss the change of seasons back east: multi-colored leaves fluttering to the ground. In California is has been a constant brown (since the drought) all year long, and I remember when it used to be green.

It is wonderful to get back to my hometown of New York in the fall to see the autumn touchdown. So terms of wines to enjoy in the next couple of months, I will suggest some green, gold and red pairings. You can be in synch with the fall colors even if you can't see them from where you live.

Light Green with Herbal Hints
Portugal's Northern whites from the Vinho Verde region aren't really green. But they do have lovely ribbons of acidity and sometimes a little fizz on the palate. They also tend to be very well priced and are great food parings (think delicate seafood and stinky cheese). They are also a delightful way to start off an evening.

South Africa's reds have long been somewhat vegetal: and I say this with an enormous amount of affection. The country's Cabernet Sauvignons are particularly green and tannic--in a gratifying way that can evolve on the tongue--and the blends can be fruitier and more accessible. The blends often have lush upfront fruit as well., particularly if they have Syrah in them. Warwick and Vergelegen have long been favorites of mine.

Gold and Golden
Some of the Rhône Valley white wines have lovely, zesty oxidative notes. Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier all grow beautifully in this area, as do many wines from Washington State that use the same grapes.

The French are masters of dessert wines: should you want to amp up the heat on that color yellow. They can range from Muscat Beaume de Venise with tiny bubbles to unctuous Sauternes. Both wines pair divinely with caramel desserts or can be enjoyed on their own to finish off the evening.

Red and Orange
The pale colors of Chinon, one of my favorite wines in the Loire Valley, are a very clear red, but thankfully not orange. I have never been a fan of those oxidized wines from Northern climes--I won't name names--that have been such an object of fascination for so many sommeliers. They are frankly pretty unfriendly to food pairings and leave an unpleasant burst of acidity and bitter notes in your mouth.

Some of those rowdy, and somewhat tannic, Chilean and Argentine wines are great to enjoy on fall nights. Carmenere has long  been a favorite of mine, as well as some Malbecs and Bonardas from Argentina. Bodega Renacer makes some lovely wines. Don't forget France's Cahors when you are looking for big, thick inky wines to pair with a long-reduced beef dish.

Happy Fall.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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