Friday, September 21, 2007

Glorious and Festive Fall Wines

The leaves are changing color and soon the weather will become cooler. Hearty meals of soups, stews, pastas and casseroles require substantial wines. Consider some of these choices.

Merlot possesses luscious and succulent ripe cherry, plum and chocolate qualities that are a silky complement to chicken or turkey or "red meat" fish like salmon and tuna.

Tempranillo is a delicious, all-purpose red that is peppery and earthy. It is packed with dark berry flavors with ripe tannins that can be enjoyed alone or with anything you put on the table.

"Food-friendly" and "crowd-pleasing" are also descriptors for the next red wine. Sangiovese is the grape known predominantly in many Chiantis. It is a medium-bodied wine with dusty violet aromas and bright cherry or raspberry flavors. These wines are best matched with pastas, red meats, wild game and vegetables that are roasted or grilled with olive oil, herbs and garlic.

Cabernet Sauvignon has hints of bell pepper, currant, plum and black cherry flavors. It pairs well with marbeled red meats, lamb, duck or sausage as the fats in the protein will cut through the more agressive tannins.

Cabernet Franc is a grape variety first grown in France's Loire Valley. It has an intense floral aroma that is seductive. Rich, dense and velvety with currant and berry notes, it has polished tannins. Serve with pork tenderloin, herbed poultry, rich pastas and ham.

Malbec is the signature grape of Argentina and is planted high in the Andes at elevations that would give other varieties nosebleeds. In the sun-drenched days and cool nights these grapes develop dark color and flavor while maintaining acidity. Try it with grilled meats.

Syrah will typically have hints of licorice and anise when grown in warmer climates and be more peppery in cooler regions. It goes well with hearty red meat dishes and venison.

Zinfandel has a heady bouquet of new leather, violets and licorice, intense boysenberry and blueberry. It's a hit with BBQ ribs, meat loaf, roast turkey or chili.

When the weather changes, be ready. Have a sweater, a pot of chili and a hearty red wine on hand.