Wines to fall for in autumn
People are already wrapping up vintage in some places and the days are getting shorter, so let's make hay and drink all the warm weather drinks while there's still sun around! While rosé's a given, let's get outside the box and broaden our beverage horizons. It's a wine-derful world out there, and you'll only discover it one sip – or one snappy but informative wine article – at a time. Here are our top four wine styles for autumnal drinking, that you're destined to fall for.
1. Pétillant-naturel a.k.a pet nat
Imagine grape juice happily bubbling away as its sugars are consumed by yeast and turned into alcohol. It's not quite done fermenting, and then someone whacks it in a sparkling bottle and slaps a lid on it. Boom! Pet nat ensues... since the carbon dioxide can't escape, it gives a natural fizz to the wine as it finishes fermenting, and every bottle might be a little different. It's an ancient technique that's made a huge comeback recently thanks to young-hearted winemakers with a penchant for the risk involved. These wines are usually yeasty, cloudy and 100% smashable. Fresh fruity flavours, refreshing bubbles and generally more moderate alcohol makes for a park-perfect go-to. It's something a bit quirkier than Prosecco and offers an insight into what wine might have been like centuries ago.
2. Lighter reds
A hefty, syrupy, tannic red monster on a hot day doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Luckily, interest in lighter-bodied red wine styles is growing, especially styles that can be served a little cooler than room temp. Plenty of makers are exploring these styles, with blends of different grapes for approachability and freshness. Wines like Beaujolais or light pinot noir from cooler regions (Yarra, Tassie, Mornington) are immensely drinkable, chillable and smile-some. Pinot meunier is thinner on the ground but just as fun in the glass, and you'll find some Spanish varieties like young, unoaked sangiovese or tempranillo can do with a stint in the Esky. These light reds, chilled for 20 minutes before drinking, will satisfy your red wine cravings during the warmer months and let you experience them in the best way possible. Overdid the time in the fridge? That's cool, just let it warm up in the glass, and watch it flower. Soon you'll be drinking chilled red in winter and wondering where it all went so wrong.
3. Textural whites
White wine and warm weather is a no-brainer combo. So up your white game by trying some wines where the focus is all about texture. There are so many varieties grown throughout Australia that offer a slightly different experience. Chenin blanc out of WA; fiano, arneis and vermentino from SA or Vic; even some of the more medium-bodied, oily pinot gris from New Zealand. Think popping acidity, spicy notes, silky smooth wine that isn't satisfied being crisp and clean. It's a party on your tongue, and fruit's sometimes an afterthought. So branch out to texture town, pack the cheese and cured meats and get back to that park, where there'll soon be a bare patch in the grass, where your favourite spot is.
4. Off-dry whites (and bubbly)
Sweetness in wines is a touch out of fashion, but slightly off-dry (read: ever-so-slightly sweet) wines can offer refreshment that's entirely next level. Just a wee touch – a spoonful of sugar, as Ms Poppins may say – can make a wine fresher and equally more quaffable, balancing out acidity and accentuating flavour. If it's listed on the label, look for wines with under 15 grams per litre or residual sugar. It may sound like a lot, but high acid wines can keep that sweetness in check. (And think how much sugar you just added to your tea.) Riesling from Germany and New Zealand, prosecco from Italy and the King Valley, Alsatian gewürztraminer... off-dry wines aren’t some sort of throwback to yesteryear. They’re fresh, full, fun and usually a bit lighter on in alcohol. If you’re feeling really adventurous, grab a bottle of moscato d’Asti (don't worry, it's evolved from your Lambrusco days), and enjoy the gentle spritz combined with a huge, fruit-forward flavour bomb. It's what Barolo makers drink after a long vintage day, but don't admit it.
Permission to explore granted. Whether you're trying to cool down or warm up, these styles cross boundaries of needing to be chilled or not, providing endless ways you can have fun with them.