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Having grown up in the deep South, fall for me conjures up not images of gold and red leaves or apple cider doughnuts, but rather tailgating at football games, being able to be outside again without air-conditioning and lots of barbecuing and garden parties. Fall in the south is what would be considered summer weather in Boston, as the unbearable heat of July and August finally fall to the 80s.
But in New England, September means those first leaves scattered across lawns, pumpkins and chrysanthemums on front porches, the first hints of wood smoke from fireplaces, and pulling out socks for closed shoes. But it also means hot days interspersed with cool nights and being outside to enjoy the last lingering days of summer.
All of which raises the question, what wines should I be drinking?! Chilled refreshing whites and lighter reds for the hot days? Heavier red wines for the cool nights? Do I want stew tonight or a grilled striped bass with cucumber salad? That is shoulder season for you. And honestly, I don’t have any answers. But that is the beauty of wine – there is an infinite variety to choose from and you should drink what you crave in the moment.
Our farmer’s market is still going and the Fish Lady (what she calls herself) is still selling some of the freshest fish around. So, on Wednesdays, we always open a white. I am a big fan of more muscular whites. While Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are both big and bold, there are other wines that bring some variety and adventure but also pure deliciousness. One of my favorite wines these days is the Louro Godello from Rafael Palacios. It is a Spanish varietal from the Galicia region and, weighing in at 14% alcohol by volume, it is a hefty wine – redolent of ripe apples and almonds, with a creamy texture and a mineral, almost saline finish. It is a perfect wine for those summer days and autumn nights.
Other evenings, with burgers or sausages from the grill, we might drink a Chianti Classico like a Pian del Ciampolo from the revered Montevertine estate. It is a vibrant wine full of red fruit, an acid bite and textural tannins that pair beautifully with the smoky, roasted flavors of grilled meats. Perhaps a Cru Beaujolais from Morgon with pan-roasted chicken and veggies. Or a South African Chenin Blanc like Secateurs with Asian takeout.
In other words, I save the Cabernets and Rhône Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre blends, the Malbecs and the Merlots for the winter months and explore the rest of the world of wine during these rambunctious months of New England autumn.
If you’d like to try some new wines for chilly evenings, join Seema’s upcoming class on October 15th: Under the Harvest Moon.