Fall is the season of change—as the trees shed their leaves and temperatures drop, both people and animals begin hunkering down for the cold, dark winter months ahead. The wine industry also changes this time of the year as wine enthusiasts stow their crisp white and rosé wines and replace them with bolder, richer reds that pair well with hearty fall dishes.
Pinot Noir is a wine chameleon—it evolves in response to its surroundings, taking on an entirely new personality in every terroir. This light-bodied red wine variety is extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in climate, which is why there’s such a notable difference between New-World Pinot Noir and Old-World Pinot Noir. While New-World Pinot Noir is often fruit-forward, heavily oaked, and extracted, Old-World Pinot Noir is generally more delicate, acidic, and earthy.
The Umbrian wine region of Italy may be small, but its wines pack a powerful punch. The best wines from Umbria are racy and vibrant and many have aging potential. This region is also incredibly diverse; while it’s known for citrusy, dry white wines, Umbria also produces many bold, tannic red varieties that are gaining in popularity among Italian wine collectors. This guide will explore what collectors need to know about this marvelous “green heart of Italy,” including the area’s best-known subregions, finest producers, and most collectible blends.
Wines from Hermitage are some of the most delicious and rewarding to age. They can taste a little closed off in their youth, but over time they transform into deeply complex wines packed with peppery, smoky flavors. There is also a lot of flavor variety in wines from this region. For example, a wine enthusiast posting on the Wine Berserkers forum tried two bottles of Hermitage at dinner—a 2004 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon and a 2007 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. The 2007 wine was flavorful and juicy, but still a little green–a common quality in relatively young Hermitage. The 2004 wine was more complex, aromatic, and much more mature tasting, despite being only a few years older. Although these two estates are located only about three miles apart, the two wines couldn’t have been more different. Terroir, age, and vintage strongly influence Hermitage wine characteristics.
My spouse and I love thoughtful, experience-based gifts. Rather than giving each other jewelry or watches for our anniversary, we always plan a special dinner and buy each other a fantastic bottle of wine. Giving wine as an anniversary gift is a perfect option for many couples because it’s something they can enjoy together. It’s also very personal; every couple is different, so every couple’s choice of wine will be unique to their relationship.
Master of Wine Jancis Robinson says, “Not much about wine makes me sad, but the average wine consumer’s attitude to sweet wines does. Good sweet wine is probably the most difficult and expensive wine in the world to make, yet so many people turn up their noses at the idea of sweetness in wine.” This is especially true for sweet red wines. While Sauternes is often praised by wine critics and collectors alike, sweet red wines aren’t given nearly as much attention. This guide will help you find the most incredible sweet red wines on the market today.
A few years ago, a wine enthusiast wrote a letter to Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinifera asking whether it’s safe to decant Sauternes. The letter writer had just come back from a restaurant and had been surprised to see that the sommelier poured a 1995 Château d’Yquem from a decanter. Dr. Vinifera responded that decanting Château d’Yquem certainly isn’t a common practice, but it’s also not a bad idea. Like any other fine wine, some Sauternes vintages open up with a little aeration and become more expressive.
In 2015, journalist Melissa Chang was invited to a private wine tasting party built around unique Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon food pairings. Each dish was designed specifically to complement a particular Dom Pérignon wine. The classic 2004 Dom Pérignon was served with bacon jam biscuits. A bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 was paired with smoked king salmon. The night wrapped up with glasses of 2003 Dom Pérignon Rosé followed by a sweet tofu dessert. Chang said the tasting reminded her just how versatile Dom Pérignon and other fine Champagne can be. She says, “Champagne is like a little black dress—it goes with everything.” This guide will show you how to create the ideal pairing for all the bottles in your collection.
My idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day wine is generally either vintage Champagne or aged red Burgundy. However, last year, we decided to try something a little different. We chose a bottle of 1961 Château Prieuré du Monastir Del Camp Rivesaltes–a truly special wine that had fascinating flavors of fresh citrus and dried fruit. Serving decades-old Grenache was an unexpectedly great Valentine’s Day wine idea because it made the evening much more memorable. My spouse and I have shared dozens of bottles of Champagne together, but we’ve only had one bottle of 1961 Grenache from the Languedoc.
This summer, I went to a wedding and was served the most delicious homemade Indian food I’ve ever tasted. I filled my plate with buttery chicken makhani, smoky tandoori, and a huge variety of spicy curries. The bride and groom provided two different alcoholic beverages to pair with the food: lager beer and Grenache. I’ll admit that when I saw Grenache on the menu, I was a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure how the wine’s flavors would interact with all of the complex spices in the meal. To my surprise, however, the Grenache blend the couple chose perfectly complemented the food. The fruitiness of the Grenache played well with the creamier dishes on the table, while the spicy notes in the wine enhanced the food’s smoky paprika and cardamom flavors. Grenache and Indian food is now one of my favorite pairings.
One of my friend’s favorite holiday traditions is to sit next to the fireplace with a bottle of vintage Graham’s at her side. She sips the wine slowly while nibbling on dark chocolate truffles or chocolate-covered almonds. For her, port and chocolate go hand-in-hand. Even though she’s served port with other desserts before, she always goes back to that same classic port and chocolate pairing.
Whenever I see a magnum from one of my favorite producers, I almost always buy it without a second thought. That’s because I host a Christmas dinner party with my extended family every year, and we go through around a dozen standard-size bottles over the course of the night. Hosting a party like this is a serious challenge–not only do you need to make sure there’s enough wine to go around, but you also have to choose those wines carefully so that they appeal to everyone’s diverse tastes. It took my family and me a number of years to refine our Christmas wine list, but we have finally come up with the perfect combination of wines that make everyone in the family happy.