How to Pick the Perfect Wine for Fall

Alyssa McGrath of Verity Wine Partners offers advice that will help consumers make the best selections when purchasing wine.

photo by laura petrilla

Walking into a bottle shop can be a whirlwind of labels, vintages and grape varietals. It’s exciting to be presented with so many possibilities but there can also be the tyranny of choice that comes along with it.

As we move into the warm days and chilly nights of fall, wine representatives offer their customers (i.e. your sommeliers and bartenders) alternatives for the blushy roses, crisp whites and juicy, fruit forward reds of summer. To that end, Alyssa McGrath of Verity Wine Partners and her colleagues in the industry have to keep their fingers on the pulse of the wine world in order to offer the best bottles they can find. Here are a few of the tips and trends McGrath thinks are worthy of note both for the coming season and as generally sounds advice any time of the year.

Quaff a little Burgundy
“Fall is a great time for Burgundy,” says McGrath. New vintages from this wine region in Eastern France come out in September and collectors and buyers will be on the hunt for them. Red Burgundy is made from a 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes, a familiar varietal, which can help ease tasting anxieties from new or shy wine enthusiasts.

Keep an eye on developing wine regions
Thinking about wine typically calls to mind the rollings fields of France or a romantic night in Italy with a a couple of bottles and a few close friends. While both would be wonderful experiences there is a much more diverse landscape of geography in the global wine market. “You’ll find a lot of great value and experimental wine production in developing wine regions,” says McGrath. South Africa is one of these places where young and adventurous wine makers are starting their businesses. With the political shifts, the market has become more viable, while the land remains affordable for those looking to start their own business.

Take a closer look at Spain and Italy
Established wine geographies offer lesser-known varietals. For example, McGrath suggests looking beyond the obvious in Spain and Italy. “I always encourage people to reach out of their comfort zone, especially with Spain and Italy. There’s a lot going on outside of Sangiovese and Tempranillo,” says McGrath. McGrath recommends picking up bottles from Italian regions like Friuli and the Marche. In Spanish wine she leans towards riojas and priorats as value-driven choices. “Moving into fall, those more robust, bigger body wines come into play” says McGrath.

Reach for a bottle of natural wine
The organic food craze isn’t just present at the local Whole Foods or co-op, it’s been making its way into the world of wine as well. “They’re very popular right now. Consumers are increasingly more careful about responsible wine production,” says McGrath. Natural wines are made without additives and processing aids (save maybe a pinch of sulphur dioxide, commonly known as sulphates). The vintner has minimal interference in the fermentation process, allowing the microbiomes to do the work on their own. Most of winemakers that focus on natural wines make limited quantities of each wine, so if you find a bottle you particularly like, buy more than one. “Look into the small producers. [For them] It’s not quantity, it’s quality,” says McGrath.

Categories: PGHeats