What to drink this autumn (ie right now)
Ah autumn (or fall for our American readers), that one time of the year when you can drink absolutely everything winey, just because it can be either hot or cold (layering is important).
But dig a little deeper and autumn is particularly good for one style – what I call ‘medium’ wine.
Medium bodied, medium sweet, medium dry... Medium! I’m thinking white wines that aren’t just light and floral, nor do I want bombastic, heavy reds. Just perfectly medium wines, for sipping and contemplation.
As a perfect example of a medium wine, look no further than Pinot Gris. At its lightest, Pinot Gris is flavourless, acidic water. At its richest setting, Gris is full-on, ultra decadent white wine hedonism. But somewhere in between – where most of the Pinot Gris hang – lies a white wine that has textural richness and weight, yet remains dry and refreshing to finish. An in-between wine, which can suit a whole lotta different cuisines (and particularly anything with spice) and can be good value.
In turn, Pinot Gris’ mutant cousin Pinot Noir (technically most of the Pinot are mutants, but don’t tell them that) is also a perfectly acceptable medium wine. In places like Martinborough or the Adelaide Hills it can make for robust red wine, Pinot Noir is typically a medium bodied beast that combines beauty and delicacy with fine tannins and sneaky structure, the net result a wine that is light on its feet, yet deceptively strong willed.
The other interesting thing about these medium wines is about serving temperature. You can actually serve both these wines at no too dissimilar temperatures, with the Gris appreciate cool temps (but not icy cold) and Pinot Noir cool (but not icy cold). 15C is perfect for all but the stemmiest Pinot Noir, and many of the best Gris you want at close to 10C.
A most logical next question then is – what to eat with all these medium wines? That’s the other joy of mediumness... everything goes! Of course there are some classic, almost cliché matches that need a mention, with couplings like duck and young Pinot Noir or quiche and rich Pinot Gris. But in all honesty, these really are such egalitarian wine styles that they can match everything from very stinky cheese right through to roast pork.
With such a smorgasbord of different regions and wineries that specialise in Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir to choose from it seems a little rude to pull out just a few, but I’ll give it a go anyway!
Firstly, I have a massive soft spot for Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir, with wines from the likes of Ten Minutes by Tractor, Eldridge, Moorooduc Estate, Main Ridge and Willow Creek all impressing regularly. Conversely, I think Central Otago makes some of the most interesting richer styled Pinot Gris in the southern hemisphere, with the likes of Amisfield, Gibbston Valley, Mt Difficulty and Peregrine all making wonderfully textured wines well worth tracking down.
Otherwise, If you’d like to try more autumnal ‘medium’ wines try one of our wine tasting events, with regular focuses on cheese, wine and all things good in the world.
Enjoy drinking medium!
(Photo courtesy of Ian Sane)