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Sweater Weather Reds Are The Cardigans of Wine

With evenings dipping down to cellar temperatures, red wines are catching our eye again. Let’s not jump the gun though: There’s a whole category of transitional reds (aka, the cardigans of wine) that’ll keep you warm, in style and in season. Here’s a handful of juicy, lively little rouge numbers perfect for the foods and moods of these in-between days.

Capped like a beer and super-sized, Tendu Red makes its MO clear: easy-access gulpability. Blending three Italian-born, California-grown varietals (Montepulciano, Barbera and Aglianico) that walk the line between fruity and spice cabinet-y, maker Matthiasson Wines keeps things fresh with stainless-steel fermentation and neutral barrel aging. Fire up the grill, throw on a fleece and drink this while your turkey burgers sizzle.

Pinot Noir’s an easy pick when you’re after a light-bodied red, but ever since Sideways, finding a really good one at a decent price has become a little more difficult. Praise Billsboro Winery. This Pinot Noir from the Finger Lakes gives us all the red fruit and all the forest floor we want from this starlet of a grape. Roast chicken’s in the oven!

Pasta night won’t know what hit it when you plunk this Channing Daughters Lagrein down on the table. The Long Island take on a Northern Italian varietal stays true to its roots: dark, handsome and a total dream date with tomato sauce.

Young, but no less wise, Mendocino-based Coturri Winery makes a totally affable, instantly gratifying wine from Carignan, a grape that normally plays backup to Southern French and Spanish wines in need of some serious structure. We’re partial to chilling it slightly and sipping it alongside cheese, salami and other antipasti = dinner devourables.

Native yeasts and whole-cluster fermentation give Forlorn Hope’s Alvarelhão a decidedly perkier taste than you might expect from a Portuguese grape that’s often blended into Port, that fortified fireside favorite. All ripe plums and crushed rose petals, this Napa-made revelation (no, that’s not the wine talking, it really is spectacular) goes down easy with everything from pork chops to Portuguese-inspired chorizo, potato and kale soup.      

So many wines to usher in these days before hibernation season. No need to bust out your Red Zinfandel and Snuggie just yet.

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