So many of us wine drinkers look forward to fall and the advent of cooler weather. The seasonal vegetables and fruits shift to a richer and more savory flavor, and our cooking styles change as well. With the slightest suggestion of a falling yellow leaf or chilly breeze, I make an excuse to don a scarf or sweater. I also find myself braising, roasting, baking, or making soups a lot more often.
Our wine choices also take the hint, as we reach for richer, fuller-bodied styles of reds and whites. Let's taste through a few delicious, yet budget-friendly wines that pair perfectly with the season's transitional weather and savory fare.
10 Budget Wines for Fall Drinking
1. Château de Landiras, Bordeaux Blend, Graves, France, 2010, $19 - This complex, yet approachable, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend is a gem. It is a great red wine to reach for if you want to explore the red wines of Bordeaux. Notes of blackberry, forest floor, and mushroom dominate the palate, and the finish is lengthy. Pair with a savory dish, like Roasted Lamb Chops and Mushrooms.
2. Las Rocas, Spanish Red Blend, Calatayud, Spain, 2009, $12 - The wines of Las Rocas never disappoint me, vintage after vintage. This Garnacha-based red blend is smooth, rich, and fruity, with notes of dusty blackberry and vanilla bean. This lush, smoky wine is perfect with Stuffed Pork Chops.
3. Estancia, Pinot Gris, California, 2013, $10 - I love this Pinot Gris alone or served with end-of-summer vegetables. It's crisp, un-oaked, and dry, with notes of grapefruit, ripe green apple, and lime. This acidic, food-friendly white wine is a great match for Potato and Yellow Squash Gratin or Sautéed Zucchini with Chorizo and Lime.
4. Banfi "Centine", Super Tuscan, Toscana, Italy, 2012, $12 - This Sangiovese-based red blend is a killer value. It delivers herbaceous notes of cedar and dried tobacco, with fruity undertones of sour cherry and spiced plum. "Centine" is a versatile food wine that can stand up to the richest recipes or complement more subtle dishes. Try it alongside Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts.
5. Mulderbosch, Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, S. Africa, 2011, $13 - Chenin Blanc is one of South Africa's signature white wine varietals. This wine is floral on the nose and exhibits flavors of ripe apple, mango, and pineapple. The minimal oak aging provides a subtle hint of baking spices. This refreshing, medium-bodied wine marries perfectly with vegetable soups, grilled seafood, or Viking Chicken.
6. Protea Red, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Western Cape, S. Africa, 2012, $18 - Another wine from South Africa rightfully made this list. This savory wine delivers a smooth, lush, rich finish, supported by notes of coffee, black pepper, and ripe blackberry. I paired it this past Sunday with Weekend Pot Roast.
7. d'Arenberg "The Stump Jump", GSM, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2011, $11 - If you want a spicy, vibrant red wine, this is definitely one to try. A "GSM" is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes. This is a savory, full-bodied beast-of-a-wine that showcases smoky, peppery notes, alongside rich blackberry jam. The wine's great acidity make it a perfect match with Chili-Rubbed Ribeye Steak.
8. Toad Hollow, Unoaked Chardonnay, Mendocino, CA, 2013, $13 - I do enjoy a rich, oaked Chardonnay, but sometimes pairing food with oaked white wine can be a little tricky. This crisp and dry Chardonnay shows notes of grapefruit, peaches, and baked golden delicious apple. Enjoy this with Winter Greens and Gruyere Tart.
9. Danny Seo "Philosophy", Zinfandel, Mendocino, CA, 2011, $20 - Not all Zinfandels are jammy, rich "fruit bombs." This elegant, slightly leaner styled Zinfandel is medium in body. It's made for easy sipping, but it supported with mouthwatering acidity, alongside notes of candied red fruits, herbaceous undertones, and spiced plums and blackberries. It's great with all-things-grilled, like Grilled Cheese with Charred Onions and Guacamole.
10. Tira Pé DieM, Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France, 2012, $11 - If you say you want a dry wine, then this one is for you. This is another great red Bordeaux value, and it delivers aromas and flavors of concentrated blackberry, cassis, cedar, forest floor, and dried herbs. This medium-bodied Merlot-based blend can stand up to richer menu choices, like Braised Beef Stroganoff with Pappardelle.
Do you have a favorite fall wine that you're looking forward to opening soon?