Just as we associate white wine with fish and red wine with red meat — an assumption that is not always correct — we similarly bluntly force wine into seasonality.
When temperatures drop below 70, we don’t need to throw up our hands and say, “Oh, well. No more white until May.” There is no pumpkin spice of wine, and we can drink what we want when we want.
Some whites, however, have more weight and moderate acids, making them better in cooler weather.
Pinot grigio and pinot gris are different names for the same grape. I’m not a huge fan of many pinot grigio, which tend to be lean and sharp, but I love pinot gris, which denotes a softer, maybe sweeter, style.
Oregon, with its cooler climate, is a great source for fall-ready white wines. In addition to pinot noir and chardonnay, it makes lovely pinot gris and riesling.
Chehalem Three Vineyard Willamette Valley 2017 Pinot Gris shows character of apple and melon with white flowers. Soft and slightly sweet, the wine backs it up with nice acids. $18. ★★★★
Bringing together the best fall-friendly grapes, Brian Carter Cellars Oriana 2017 Yakima Valley (Washington) unites two Rhone varieties, viognier and roussane, with a dash of riesling. The result is a wine that is sleek and fruitful, with floral aromas joined by peach and melon with a rich texture and touch of honey, all balanced by acidity. $15. ★★★★ 1/2
Off-dry riesling offers another great option for cooler whites. Riesling shows well with a touch of sweetness, and you certainly can reach for your favorite Pennsylvania or New York producers. Rieslings exported from Germany often have a touch of sweetness.
In the stores, however, I had a hard time finding a young German riesling. So I defaulted to the mass-produced Cupcake 2017 Riesling, sourced from Pfalz in a blue bottle to boot. Peachy and rich with melon and lemon chiffon and just 8.5% alcohol, the wine is a good mid-day sipper. $12. ★★★ 1/2
You can also an look for whites from cool climates, including the eastern United States and northern Italy. Other varieties, such as chenin blanc and chardonnay, often produce richer wines ideal for watching the leaves fall.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.