The truncated days of autumn are upon us. The bracing morning air is brisk and enlivening and Nature’s brush has introduced graceful tones of red, yellow and orange to the undulating leaves of the abiding oak.
Summer turns to bummer and it’s practically winter. Out come the boots, long johns, snow shovels, windshield scrapers, malbecs, zins, cabs, Cahors and Chiantis.
Farewell, flip-flops, sun block, bikinis, sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, vinho verdes and rieslings. For wine drinkers see red when the temperature drops. The cold months require the warmth of red wines. And all those chilled whites must leave the stage until Memorial Day.
And there you have them: more wine rules that aren’t.
Yes, it is true that stronger, spicier and richer (read: red) wines tend to go better with the heartier, soul-warming dishes of autumn and winter. But an oaky chardonnay is equal to the task. Just take it out of the fridge about an hour before the first pour. (In our case, that would be 10 a.m.). Because you don’t want it too cold — partly because cold wine doesn’t pair well with cold weather but also because really cold wine numbs everything north of your Adam’s apple and you can’t taste any of the subtle notes, assuming there are any.
It is for the above reasons that sauvignon blanc is NOT a post-Labor Day white wine choice. Sauvignon blanc demands to be served at one or two degrees above freezing. It is that rare one whose flavors become more pronounced the colder the bottle.
A better choice is Pinot Grigio. Though some varieties are light and floral, many are rich, rounded, woody and viscous. Nor does it have to be real cold … moderately cool does the trick. A bold pinot grigio pairs nicely with pasta, stew, risotto or sausage. We recently stocked up on Gabbiano Promessa 2014 Pinot Grigio from Italy (close-out sale at Shaw’s, $5!).
So, to heck with the seasonal rules. Drink white and wear white after Labor Day: it shows your independence, shows that you march to your own drummer. The only thing that it won’t show is if you spill a little on your white, cotton pants. Red wine was never so forgiving.