Summer is winding down, and cool weather is finally drifting in. Atlanta is still in our fake fall season, meaning we’re still enduring the remaining remnants of summer heat with a few cool evenings mixed in. And if this fall is anything like this year’s mini spring, then cold weather will be here before we know it.
This means we have an important list of super spectacular September wines to get through before October gets here.
Earlier this summer, I deemed Soave the perfect September wine. I still stand by this statement. Soave is a very underrated Italian white wine made from Garganega grapes. This area as a wine region dates back to Roman times, and its terroir is a complex fusion of volcanic mountain soil and maritime weather. This creates a unique flavor profile in the wine that balances zesty citrus and honeydew notes with a strikingly smooth, slightly salty honey-almond taste.
There are virtually no excuses for passing up this wine because it comes at shockingly affordable prices and pairs with a variety of food and weather. The versatility of Soave makes it ideal for any September evening, whether it’s on the warmer or cooler side. If you’re a wine nerd like me, you can learn a ton of detailed facts about the region from the Soave Consorzio Tutela website, where you’ll quickly be convinced to explore this wine further.
But if you’re leaning into red wine weather this September, I’ve got two unbeatable recommendations. First, one of the most classic transitional reds for the changing of the seasons is Rioja. This wine features Tempranillo grapes and brings savory flavors to a medium-full-bodied dark cherry base. It’s got complexity on the nose with rustic flavors like leather, herbs and oak, but it balances everything with strong yet subtle tannins.
Rioja is a favorite of Cab Sauvignon lovers because its tannins and acidity make it an exceptional pairing with rich, fatty meats. It also comes at a range of affordable prices. Marqués de Cáceras has a 2018 Rioja Crianza that showcases raspberry and blackberry flavors with a balance of bitter notes of leather and licorice and sweet notes of early fall baking spices.
Even spicier is my second September red recommendation: Oregon-style Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is the most popular light-bodied red in the world, and it’s one of my personal favorites (I once wrote a whole love letter entirely about Krasno’s Pinot). Taste-wise, it’s similar to Tempranillo in regard to the baking spice notes but a little closer to Gamay in that it often has floral notes mixed in.
There are a lot of different ways to style Pinot Noir, so different wines from different regions might have drastically different flavors. Pinot Noir from Oregon has an especially unique profile characterized by two main elements: the influential weather in the region and the terroir’s contrast with California’s classic bold, fruity Pinots. These Pinot Noir wines might not be as fruit-forward as their neighbors in California; instead, they offer stronger earthy notes and a subtler berry flavor.
I’ve only just started my Pinot Noir journey this year, but I’m afraid I might have already found the star of the season. My friends at 3 Parks Wine in Atlanta got me hooked on Day Wines 2021 Vin de Days Rouge. It smells like purple flowers and mushrooms and tastes like black pepper and magic.
Day Wines describes this one as “dangerously drinkable” on their website, and I can 100% attest to their statement. I used this bottle in a photoshoot recently, and it barely lasted long enough in the glass for photos. It is impossible not to constantly sip.
Last but not least: bubbly. One of the first things I start doing at the beginning of fall is transition from light and fruity sparkling wines to bubbles with more depth, a smoother mouthfeel, and increased toastiness. This means seeking sparkings that might have been aged longer or that are made up of mildly acidic red varieties.
It should actually be pretty easy to find a variety of sparkings this season, as sparkling wine has been booming in the U.S. lately. According to Jeff Siegel for Pix, the numbers don’t lie:
“Sparkling was the fastest-growing wine in the U.S. over the past two years, growing by more than 13% in 2021. Sales last summer were particularly impressive: Americans bought one-third more bubbly than they had during the same period in pre-pandemic 2019, and sales of Champagne—most of which cost more than $30 a bottle—increased an almost unbelievable 80%.”
One of the big reasons for this sparkling wine explosion, so I’ve heard, is that more and more people have stopped reserving sparkling wine solely for special occasions. So, start celebrating everyday successes with bubbly for any occasion, and go out there and experiment with different styles to see if the changing weather is influencing your palate. With so many options at your disposal, now is the perfect time to embrace the tastes of the season.