The Hunt for White October

An upright wine barrel with two glasses of white wine on it, sitting between the rows of a fall vineyard

Of course you can sip white after Labour Day.

By Erin Henderson

White wines are for warm weather sipping and red wines for cool days; those are the rules, right?

While we tend to skirt the rules on most issues, including this one, the “red wine for fall” edict makes sense. Just like we crave thirst-quenching wines to go with snappy foods in the heat of summer, when it comes to soothing our wind-whipped souls in autumn, we yearn for the robust liquid hug of a hearty red.

However, there is hope for white wine lovers in the depths of a cold snap (not like you were going to stop drinking them anyway, right?) Macaroni and cheese, coq au vin, chana masala, roast chicken, creamy mushroom soup… the comfort foods we crave during the deep chill of fall, often pair better with silky whites.

Some white wines are even better in the cooler months, containing the weight, structure, and body that nearly rival that of red.


Chardonnay that’s aged (and possibly even fermented) in oak, has a full-bodied richness, with creamy texture and buttery flavour. It’s a weighty style that can stand up to cheese- and cream-based pastas like white lasagna or carbonara, simple roast chicken, or chickpea and cauliflower curry.

Try this Recipe: Ciceri e Tria


A grape that’s native to Piedmont in north-western Italy, Cortese often goes by the regional name of Gavi. It produces bright and snappy wines that are full of lemon and almond notes, but also have a mid-weight, silky texture that work better with food than on their own. Cortese paired to squash risotto, lentil salads, or roast veal are magic.

Try this Recipe: Easy Ricotta Gnocchi


Sémillon is perhaps most well-known for its use in the sweet dessert wines of Bordeaux. However, it also makes stunning, age-worthy dry wines most notably in Australia, South Africa, and Ontario, with waxy texture and flavours of honey, peach, roast almonds, and preserved citrus. These full-bodied wines do very well with hearty seafoods like scallops and lobster, roast pork loin, and fish or chicken in a creamy sauce.

Try this Recipe: Turkey and Corn Chowder


Another winning white from Piedmont, Arneis (meaning “little rascal”) is slightly obscure, having nearly faded into extinction, but if you do spot it, it’s worth picking up. Hopefully we will see more of it as it continues to gain favour amongst wine makers. Full bodied, with a creamy texture and a mix of orchard and stone fruit flavours, this wine does well with fall flavours like prosciutto, roast chicken breast, or baked fennel.

Try this Recipe: Wine Braised Chicken Legs with Rosemary and Garlic

Marsanne/Roussanne blends

Typically hailing from Northern Rhône, and often blended with floral Viognier, these silky wines offer a range of flavours from orange and peach to marzipan and honey, to chamomile and flint. Because of their spicy complexity, these wines can handle equally complex foods like Moroccan tagines, fragrant curries, or Chinese sweet and sour soup.

Try this Recipe: Poached Shrimp with Easy Lemon Aioli

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