Autumn Wine Favorites

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As I sleepily stumbled down the stairs this morning, driven by the need for fresh coffee and the consistent mewing of my hungry cat, Poe, I sensed something was different.  First, the floor was cold and the air not only smelled different, it felt different. Fall has come to Michigan. Sometime overnight as we lay sleeping, it snuck in through our open windows, causing us unknowingly to steal the covers from our partners. This morning may have been the first that you, like me, open the creaky front closet and reached for your jacket.

I love autumn. I fell in love with my husband on a chilly night in Royal Oak, we got married on a beautiful late October day, and I relish in the ghoulishness of Halloween.

The fall, I think, is the best time for wine lovers.  There are still plenty of sunny days that will call for crisp, zippy whites, and there is nothing better than a spicy, full bodied Zin and a bonfire.   Next time you come into any of our Nino’s stores you will see that we have changed over many of our displays.  Gone is the light, fruity Pinot Noir replaced by the season’s favorite big, rich, red; Bogle’s Phantom. And the summery Sauvignon Blanc display? It’s now, Dynamite Vineyards Zin, Cab, Merlot, and Chardonnay – wines that explode with flavor for only $9.99.

Also, Oktoberfest is in full swing.  From state side microbrews like Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest and Short’s Noble Chaos Oktoberfest, to the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner’s Festbeir, the fall beers are here! If pumpkin beer is more your style, we’ve got New Holland’s Ichabod, Arcadia Ales’ Jaw Jacker, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, and many more!

To me, fall kicks up the senses.  The intoxicating smell of Nino’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee, the sound of a cheering crowd at a football game, the taste of a crunchy fresh Honey Crisp Apple, and the sights of the leaves changing all encompass autumn. Here are my picks for the must have fall libations…

Chateau Grand Traverse Ship of Fools White Blend, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan $14.99:

What’s more fun than bringing this Ship of Fools, made up of 50% Pinot Blanc, 40% Pinot Gris, and 10% Pinot Noir, over to a friend’s house for the big game? If you’re like my family, on Sundays you’re huddled around fiery hot wings, hearty, peppery chili, and Nino’s Spicy Cajun Peanuts. The acidity cuts through these heavy foods and the fruity Pinot Gris cools the spicy kick.  Light, fruity, and refreshing, this is a winner!

Tilia Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina 2009 $8.99:

This is one of my favorite chardonnays for fall.  The creamy mouthfeel and toasted oak quality makes it a perfect pairing for an all day roasted chicken. It is not over powering with the oaky quality so it is a nice aperitif as well.

Evodia Old Vines Garnacha, Calatayud Spain 2010 $9.99:

If you like red Zinfandel from California, then I am sure you will like Garnacha from Spain.  Evodia is an excellent example of rich, spicy, Garnacha, with notes of black raspberry and coffee. This wine is a steal, and the folks at Wine Advocate agree with me giving it a 90 point score!

Victor Hugo Hunchback Red Blend Paso Robles, 2008, $17.99:

Red Blends are the number one growth category in red wine today.  After tasting this I can see why! This is a big bold beautiful wine that envelopes your mouth with ripe black plum, smoke, blackberries and a touch of toasty oak. The blend is 32% Syrah, 28% Petit Verdot, 24% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Merlot.  It is layered and will pair excellently with stews or lamb chops!

Highlands Zinfandel Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California, 2006 $29.99:

To be honest I am not the biggest fan of red Zinfandel, some are just too over blown and jammy. However, when they get it right, like Highlands did, I love it! Concentrated yet elegantly reserved this wine has layers of black cassis, baking spices, earthy complexity and a long silky finish.  This wine calls for a special night by the fire.

Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur $9.96:

If you crave sweets and love pumpkin pie, this is the perfect dessert drink for you!  Rich and creamy like Baileys, Fulton’s is like pumpkin pie in a bottle.  Pour it over ice, in your coffee, or blend it with ice cream, what ever you do stock up because it won’t last!

I hope you will love these libations as much as I do!

Enjoy!

– Jennifer Laurie