Glass of wine on a terrace during fall.

Summer to Fall Wines

The shift of one season into another is the perfect time to add some variety and change up your routine. Slowly, the days get a bit shorter and the air a little crisper. Fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy the changing scenery on your back porch with a relaxing glass of wine. With summer ending, and the weather becoming cooler, you may crave wines with a bit more body and substance than traditional summer wines have. Rose and white wines are popular during the summer and red wines are more commonly associated with winter. With fall bridging the gap, what wine varietals transition seamlessly from summer to fall? Below, Resveralife provides three suggestions for summer to fall wines.

Merlot
Though it is several months until winter, fall sees warm weather out and welcomes cooler temperatures. A smooth, round texture is characteristic of Merlot wine, which some experts consider to be the perfect “introductory” red wine for beginners. Merlot has very soft tannins, which is what is largely responsible for the wine’s smooth finish. Fruit notes typical of Merlot wines include blackberry, plum and some herbal flavors.

Cabernet Franc
One of the most popular wines worldwide is Cabernet Sauvignon, but this complex, highly tannic and full-bodied red can be a bit heavy for fall. Cabernet Franc is genetically the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon and it is often overlooked. However, Cabernet Franc is the perfect summer to fall wine as it is a lighter, brighter and less tannic red wine than its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon. The main note in Carbernet Franc is often raspberries, though you may find leafy green, earthy or smoky aromas present as well .This is an elegant wine that smells like fall and is evocative of all the flavors and scents that define the fall season.

Oaked Chardonnay
Just because red wine tends to be what people gravitate to when cooler weather hits does not mean that you can’t enjoy a white wine during fall. Chardonnay tends to feature fruit flavors of lemon, pear, apple, pineapple, peach and passion fruit. An oaked Chardonnay is an excellent summer to fall wine as it is a rich, full-bodied white wine. In addition to the fruit flavors, oaked Chardonnays have flavors such as creme brulee, caramel, butter, caramelized sugar and pie crust. These flavors combined with the added richness and buttery texture of oaked Chardonnay make this wine one of the perfect summer to fall transition wines.

When it comes to wine, the “rules” can be a bit overwhelming, but there are guidelines that help you receive the most enjoyment possible from the wines you drink. Summer to fall wines tend to be heavier and richer than their summer counterparts, while still retaining some light crispness. Remember that the only real “rule” to drinking wine is that you should drink what you enjoy and what brings you pleasure. Experimenting with different wines during different seasons help broaden your horizons and may introduce you to wines that become your favorites.

Servers pouring red and white wine.

A Guide to Common Wine Varietals

The enjoyment of a great glass of wine is one of life’s simplest pleasures, though sometimes it may not seem simple to select your wine. Wines are available in so many varieties and have so many subtle, and not so subtle, differences that it can be downright overwhelming when you start to select wines. Often, when buying a Riesling or a Cabernet Sauvignon, you know what you are getting; which is wine produced using the Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. But if you pick up a bottle with the word “varietal” on the label you may not be positive what it is that you’re choosing. Simply put, varietal means that the wine was produced using a specific wine grape. Further, in the United States, wine varietals indicate which grape is the dominant grape in the wine so that you have an idea of what flavor to expect. Some, but not all, bottles even include the percentages for every grape used in the blend. To make you more confident in your next wine purchase, Resveralife composed a guide to the most common wine varietals.

White Wines
Chardonnay – Wines produced using the Chardonnay grape are often medium to full bodied and complex. The most prominent notes in Chardonnays tend to be citrus fruits, melon, pineapples, peaches, butterscotch, butter and vanilla. There are other notes available such as apple, fig, pear, spice and hazelnut.

Riesling – With origins in Germany, Riesling is a grape that grows well in all wine districts. These wines are most typically fruity, fresh apple flavors are particularly prominent, and can be floral as well. Riesling ranges from dry to very sweet, with many having a semi-sweet taste with an acidity for balance.

Sauvignon Blanc – Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be herbal and quite light. The herbal flavors often are reminiscent of grass or bell peppers. Sour fruits such as apple, pear and gooseberry or tropical fruits and blackcurrant, may also be present. Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be crisp with a strong acidity.

Red Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon – One of the world’s most popular wines, Cabernet Sauvignons are full-bodied and complex. These wines tend to be a bit dry and firm. Flavors can range from currant, plum, black cherry and spice to olive, peppers, herbs, tobacco, vanilla and mint, to name a few. The oak barrels in which Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aged are responsible for vanilla or toasty cedar flavors the wine may have.

Pinot Noir – Another immensely popular red wine, Pinot Noir is fresh and delicate. These wines are smooth, rich and have soft tannins. The most prevalent notes of Pinot Noir wines are raisins with undertones of black cherry, raspberry and spice.

Merlot – Merlot is a supple and smooth wine with a round texture and very soft tannins. The popularity of this wine is caused by its ease of pairing (nearly anything can be paired with a Merlot) and its softness, which is not what one associates with many red wines. Wines produced using Merlot grapes feature cherry, black cherry, herbs, green olive and chocolate.

The wine selection process is a bit easier when you have a bit of background knowledge of common wine varietal. The label on a varietal wine will indicate which grape is the dominant grape in the blend, and may indicate the other grapes used as well. However, it is not required, and indeed it is illegal for a wine to label itself as a varietal is there is no dominant (75% or higher) grape used. When the word “varietal” is present on a label, it indicates what you can expect regarding flavor and finish. Branch out and try a different wine varietal for a new, and delicious, experience.

Red wine poured in a glass.

History of Merlot Wine

Merlot is one of the most popular wines in the entire world. In the United States, it ranks second most popular behind Cabernet Sauvignon. However, in the past few years wine experts and connoisseurs have deemed Merlot to be an unworthy wine. Perhaps this is because it tends to be an easy-drinking wine with a smooth texture and finish and low, unobtrusive tannins. Merlot wine may be easy-to-drink and beginner friendly, but that does not mean that seasoned wine drinkers cannot enjoy or appreciate fine Merlot wine. Merlot is a classic wine, with origins dating back to 19th century France. Learn more about the history of this velvety red wine below.

Earliest Mentions
The earliest mention of Merlot in France was written in the notes of a Bordeaux official in 1784. This local official noted that the wine coming from the Libournais region was among the best in the area. In this document, Merlot was named Merlau. It was not until the 1800s that the word Merlot was used in reference to the wine. In 1824, an article on Medoc wine described that the Merlot grape was named after the local blackbird. There are two thoughts regarding the naming of the grape: one is that it was named because local blackbirds loved to eat the ripe Merlot grapes and the other is that the grape (and wine) was named simply due to the color of the blackbirds. Merlot was first recorded in Italy around Venice and was called by the name Bordo.

Modern Merlot
The most famous region for growing the Merlot grape is the Bordeaux region in France. The Medoc region, though generally known for its Cabernets, devotes 40% of its planting space to Merlot grapes. Merlot is the third most popularly planted grape in France. The Merlot grape also thrives in the northeast Italy and is currently rapidly being grown in Eastern Europe. Merlot wine reached peak popularity in the United States during the 1990s, but it experienced a drop in popularity after the movie Sideways poked fun at the wine. Modern Merlot often features the following notes and flavors:

  • Fruity Flavors – Merlot can have fruit flavors such as raspberries, dried cherries, blackberries, blackcurrant and plum.
  • Spices – The region in which the Merlot grape is grown affect the spices that are present in the wine but some common spices are cloves, mint, caramel, bay leaves and black pepper.
  • Oak Flavors – Again, it will depend on whether the Merlot has been lightly or heavily oaked, but some of the resulting flavors are smoke, tar and oak for heavily oaked Merlots and vanilla and coconut in lightly oaked Merlots.
  • Age of the Bottle – Wine gains new flavors in the aging process and Merlots have some interesting notes from aging. Common flavors include earth, tobacco, leather and coffee.

Knowing a bit of history about the wines you prefer is a bit of fun and it gives you an appreciation for where the wine originated and what the wine has become. Merlot truly is one of the best red wines for beginners, though that does not mean that a seasoned wine veteran cannot enjoy its fruity flavors and smooth finish. Merlot also pairs with a large variety of foods, making it less stressful to find a great combination. Sit back, relax and enjoy a glass of Merlot at the end of a long day.

Spaghetti and wine

Resveralife Eat Well: Merlot Food Pairing Guide

The Merlot grape is the second most prominent grape variety in the world when it comes to planting. Second only to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is also the most consumed red wine in the United States. Often, what comes to mind when you hear the world Merlot are notes of red fruits, easy tannins, a velvety texture and a smooth finish. While it is often considered an “easy” drinking wine, Merlot can have concentrated, firm tannins that rival the best Cabernet Sauvignons. The majority of Merlot, however, is a lighter, fruitier wine that pairs well with a large variety of foods. Most Merlots feature flavors of:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Currants
  • Black cherries
  • Plums
  • Cassis
  • Chocolate

Merlots may also have hints of black olives, cedar, licorice and tobacco. The type of Merlot you drink will largely depend upon the climate in which it was grown. Cool climates yield a silky, soft-tannin Merlot while warmer climates lean towards a full-bodied, acidic Merlot. While Merlot is a joy to drink on its own, Resveralife has put together some foods that help bring out and enhance the flavors of Merlot.

Cheese platter and wine.

Cheese
Truthfully, Merlot and cheese are not the best pairing. Merlot pairs better with meatier, more substantial foods. However, that does not mean you can’t pair Merlot with cheeses. Here are some well-paired cheeses for Merlot:

  • Camembert
  • Smoked Cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Gruyere
  • Smoked Provolone
  • Parmesan

Juicy hamburger and fries.

Main Courses
Merlot is a highly versatile wine and pairs with a number of dinner options from hearty vegetarian dishes to meals featuring red meat. One of the easiest food pairings is a classic, thick and juicy hamburger. If you prefer a cheeseburger, add some medium sharp cheddar to your burger. Another relatively easy to make dish is classic spaghetti and meatballs. Not only are the meatballs a great accompaniment to Merlot, but the tomato sauce cuts through the acidity of Merlot as well. You can also create a charcuterie platter that features an assortment of smoked meats.

For vegetarians and others who enjoy main courses that use vegetables as the center, there are multiple Merlot pairings that you can create. One of the tastiest vegetarian dishes is to create a vegetable red curry. The vegetables you choose are completely up to you, but some suggestions are eggplant, potato, and asparagus. Another great vegetarian pairing for Merlot is eggplant rollatini. This blends creamy, tomato based sauce and eggplant for a dish that seems made for Merlot.

Dessert and wine

Sweets
As a general rule when pairing food and wine, desserts are paired with dessert wines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a Merlot with sweet foods. A fruit tray full of blackberries, red grapes, black cherries and plum is a perfect end to a meal served with Merlot. You could also serve Merlot with a creamy dark chocolate mousse topped with blackberries and raspberries.

Merlot is an incredibly popular wine worldwide and with the generous pairings the wine allows it is no surprise that people love to drink it. Experiment with Merlots produced in different climates for the full effect of what the Merlot grape is capable of. Remember that when it comes to wine and food, the most important rule to follow is to eat, and drink, what you like.