How to Choose the Best Seasonal Wines
Whenever the seasons change, our cravings for food and wine tend to change along with it. As the weather heats up, we look for light, refreshing foods and wines. As the weather cools, we look for food and wine that’s more comforting and filling. While finding seasonal wine flavors isn’t as simple as white wine when it’s warm and red wine when it’s cool, following a few guidelines can help you in your wine-buying journey.
Wine seasonality is actually much simpler than it may appear from the outset. The best wine pairing is one that complements your meal and takes into consideration your preferences for aroma and wine structure. If you’re looking to navigate through seasonal wines and seasonal wine flavors, look no further! After reading this guide, you’ll be empowered to choose wines tailored to your preferences.
When it comes to fall seasonal wines, the best choice is the one that pairs with your meal and suits your personal preferences for aroma and flavor. Lighter bodied, fresh reds and bold, fresh whites are great choices for this transitional season. During the fall months, we generally start to see more foods like winter squash, apples, mushrooms, and root vegetables in local grocery stores and markets. As it gets cooler, you may start to crave more roasted dishes, like roasted vegetables and poultry.
Roasted poultry and vegetables pair beautifully with wines such as pinot noir, Gamay, and cabernet franc. Hearty pastas and pizzas are great with barbera. All of these reds wines are great fall season wines that offer up some comfort and pair well with seasonal fall dishes as the weather outside starts to cool. If you’re seeking a white wine for the fall, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are both great options.
Pinot noir wines tend to have red cherry, mushroom, and forest floor aromas, while offering some freshness on the palate. They’re great fall wines if you like complex aromas and flavors. Any cool climate pinot noir is a great choice, particularly from Burgundy, France, and Oregon, USA.
Gamay wines tend to have notes of raspberry, cherry, lavender, bubblegum, and banana on the nose. They’re light, fresh, and fruity. Gamay originates from Beaujolais which is responsible for most of the production for this type of wine. Gamay is a great choice for pairing with roasted chicken or turkey.
Cabernet franc wines are bolder, with raspberry and jalapeño on the nose. The Loire Valley in France and Niagara Peninsula in Canada are some of the highest producing regions for cabernet franc. This is a great choice for roasted poultry dishes as well.
Barbera wines are fresh with notes of dark cherry, blackberry, and tomato leaves, and are rich while still light-bodied. They pair well with tomato-based dishes like pizza and pasta.
Sauvignon blanc offers freshness as well as green bell pepper and lemon aromas that pair quite well with roasted poultry and vegetables. If going with a sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley region, expect to palate flavors that are a little more restrained, while the New Zealand region features bolder flavors, if that aligns with your preferences.
Another great white wine option for the fall season is chardonnay. Unoaked chardonnays offer apple and pear aromas on the nose, while oaked chardonnays are buttery and creamy. Both work well for fall dishes like squash soup and roasted vegetables.
Similar to seasonal wine for fall, the wines to focus on for spring depend on the types of food that are in season. In-season produce during the spring months tends to include leafy greens, asparagus, and stone fruits. If you’re located in a region with long winters, you’ll probably start to crave fresh salads, fruits, and vegetables during the spring season. Focus on wines that are light and fresh. Spring salads and meals are great with Grüner Veltliner, Arneis, and sauvignon blanc. If you prefer red wines, lower tannin reds like pinot noir and Gamay are great options.
Grüner Veltliner is a fresh, dry white wine with some similarities to sauvignon blanc. Both have a green pepper quality on the nose. Grüner Veltiner offers aromas of lime and grapefruit. The citric and vegetal qualities of this wine make it great for pairing with spring vegetables.
Arneis offers aromas of pear, apple, almonds, honey, and white flowers. It’s a fresh white wine that works very well with spring vegetables, seafood, soups, and hors d’oeuvres. It’s an Italian grape variety from the Piedmont region.
For those who prefer red wines, fall favorites pinot noir and Gamay are also great seasonal wines for the spring. They’re both relatively low in tannins, light in body, and fresh. They’ll pair well with spring vegetables, fish, and poultry dishes. You’ll want to stick to bottles from cooler climate regions, like Burgundy and Beaujolais.
During the winter, hearty vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots, and turnips can be more prominent in our meals and hearty soups make their way onto our home menus. You may also start to crave red meats, like beef and lamb. Great winter wines offer comfort and warmth and varietals like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, syrah, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon all pair well with winter meals.
Nebbiolo is very high in tannins and has notes of red cherry, dried herbs, and fennel on the nose. Nebbiolo from Piedmont, particularly Barolo, is an excellent choice for beef dishes.
Originating in Tuscany, Sangiovese has notes of red cherry, strawberry, tomatoes, and herbs on the nose. It pairs great with any tomato-based dish, as well beef and veal.
Syrah typically has notes of blackberry, blueberry, baking spices, and smoke on the nose. It is high in antioxidants and features full-bodied taste. Because of this, it pairs best with bold foods.
Rich in flavor and high tannin content make cabernet sauvignon one of the most popular red wines on the market. It can be fruity or savory, depending on the region in which the grapes are grown. Pair it with dishes high in flavor, like grilled meats.
Malbec typically has notes of plum, black cherry, coffee, mocha, and tobacco. It doesn’t have a long finish, unlike cabernet, and pairs nicely with lean red meats.
If you’re a fan of white wine, rieslings offer intense, fruity aromas of orchard fruits on the nose. Rieslings are both sweet and acidic, making them the perfect wines to pair with spicy winter dishes.
During the summer, berries, melon fruits, and corn are more commonly available. We also tend to enjoy grilled vegetables, fish, and meats during the summer. The heat outside typically has people reaching for lighter and more refreshing wines. White wines like rosé, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc are often popular choices, and even mixing these wines into wine spritzers is a great way to cool down while temperatures rise.
Rosé is a fun summer wine that has exploded in popularity in recent years. They tend to be very refreshing with notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, and mango. Unlike some wines that become better with age, a bottle of rosé shouldn’t sit on a shelf for longer than a year or two.
Pinot grigio is a highly acidic white wine that has varying flavor profiles based on the region it comes from, although you’ll most often see Italy and France on the label. Because of its high acidity, it’s an easy-drinking white wine and goes great with any seafood dish.
Originally developed in the western region of France but now one of the most popular white wines in the United States, sauvignon blanc is low in sugar and high in acidity, which makes it refreshing and crisp. Serve alongside grilled seafood dishes, vegetarian dishes, or roasted chicken.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to drinking specific wines in each season but following the information in this guide will help you choose a great seasonal wine to entertain guests and complement meals. As we say goodbye to one season and welcome the next, check out the Hickory Farms website to find seasonal wine baskets that are filled with the perfect pairings of flavors. These are great gifts for holiday parties, birthdays, housewarming parties, and more.