By Rebecca Hertz

Killeen Daily Herald

When the seasons start to change so do our appetites. As we slip past Labor Day and into the fall, the color palette in our minds drifts into the muted warm colors of the new season and heartier comforting foods. Preferences for the crisp chilled white wines give way to the robust reds.

"Traditionally to pair foods with wine, it's white wine with white meats and red wine with red meats," said Dan Marek, winemaker at Georgetown Winery.

He suggests a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Shiraz with richer, heavier meals. He said that reds are actually more popular than whites in yearound sales.

"The problem in Texas is that it's still hot," June Ritterbusch of Salado Wine Sellers said. "People tend to like lighter body reds."

She suggests Grenache-Mourvedre from McPherson Cellars in West Texas. The wine is named for the French grapes that create it. She describes the wine as smoky with a hint of black cherry and currant, nice with pizza or grilled foods.

"The weather in Texas will be good enough for the next three months so that people can grill," Ritterbusch said. "Light bodied reds go especially well with grilled foods."

A wide variety of wines are produced by Texas wineries. The state ranks 5th in the nation producing more than 2 million gallons annually. More than 170 wineries and 2,700 acres of vineyard contribute about $1.35 billion to the Texas economy, according to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

Very spicy foods can be difficult to match with wines. A sweeter wine like a Riesling can be a good choice because you can taste it over the fiery flavors. A dry wine may be overpowered by the food. It is like having a glass of fruity sangria with Mexican food, the sweetness compliments the medley of spices rather than competing with food.

You can enjoy wine without being an expert. Select wines you enjoy. If people pick wines that they like the taste of, they will naturally pick flavors that go with the foods they like, Ritterbusch said.

Everything from which wine goes best with what meal to the proper serving temperature for the wine is really about personal preference. Experts recommend that red wines be served at room temperature, but that really depends on where your room is located. In Central Texas room temperature could be close to 80 degrees. Serving the wine at 60 to 65 degrees, which is cellar temperature, may be a better guide, according to the Cellar Notes Web site. So, if you prefer it colder, by all means chill it.

Wine is like life. It is different for everyone and time is too short not to enjoy it.

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