The sun is setting earlier these days and a celebratory way to remedy this dreaded decrease in sunlight is with a time-honored tradition: movie night. For some, the moment fall equinox arrives it serves as a signal to pull out the cornucopia decor, grab a thick blanket, and queue up a long list of films for the cozy months ahead. For others, there's a small handful of seasonal flicks worth returning to every few years. Whichever camp you happen to fall into — festive or fanatical — a single truth remains: a film and wine pairing is all but essential for ensuring an optimal at-home cinematic experience.
If you find yourself suffering from decision paralysis when it comes to wine, let this (rather non-scientific-but-quite-fun) guide to pairings ahead help inform your choice — and maybe even assist in you trying a new grape variety or two. From peppery Syrahs for a steamy romance from the ‘90s to a hearty Chianti for a film centered around food, there's a low likelihood you'll come away from the 13 suggestions below without at least an idea or two for your next Friday evening spent snuggled up at home or movie night with friends.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
When Harry Met Sally
Nora Ephron's 1989 genre-defining masterpiece delivers on peak autumnal vibes. Meg Ryan in her tweed blazers and trousers, Billy Crystal in his chunky knits and flannels — it's no wonder When Harry Met Sally is among the more iconic fall films (if not the most). It only makes sense that you should sip on a wine as classic as this beloved rom-com: Cabernet Sauvignon. This black grape variety is known for its black fruit and herbaceous aromas as well as its high tannins and acidity. It's timeless, much like its cinematic counterpart.
Pair It With: Cabernet Sauvignon
The 1994 film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale (and Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst) is a staple watch during the fall and winter months. With its breathtaking Massachusetts backdrop and a tear-jerking score by Thomas Newman, it's safe to say no autumn is complete without a viewing of this '90s flick. What to pair? Go for something like Amaro, an herbal liqueur that will be especially warming sipped beside a fireplace. While not a wine, strictly speaking, many Amaros are made by infusing wine with a blend of herbs and spices.
Pair It With: Amaro
Pieces Of April
Katie Holmes stars in this 2003 indie comedy-drama about a daughter preparing to host Thanksgiving for her estranged family at her Lower East Side apartment. Strong performances combined with relatable themes make this film a strong pairing for an equally unexpected wine: Pét-Nat. Pétillant-Naturel is a natural sparkling wine that's surged in popularity in recent years. In the context of cinema, you can think of it as the indie film of the wine world: unique, a little rebellious, and trendsetting.
Pair It With: Pét-Nat
You’ve Got Mail
What's not to love about You've Got Mail? The charming cast and inspiring Manhattan backdrop combined with a heartwarming story about an independent bookshop owner accidentally falling in love with her competition are what cozy flick archetypes are made of. While watching, you'll need something as equally versatile and likable, like Pinot Noir. Distinguishable by its red-fruit flavors and elegant balance, it's a great pour to pair with just about any type of food.
Pair It With: Pinot Noir
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play witch sisters in this 1998 cult classic. Love spells, moody costume design (ex: crushed velvet and slip dresses), and an overall wickedly enchanting ambiance cement this film as a must-watch during autumn, regardless of whether Halloween has passed or not. Unsurprisingly, an inky Malbec is a perfect wine to complement the autumnal atmosphere of this movie. This deeply-colored, full-bodied wine offers high tannins and lots of black fruits and spicy characteristics.
Pair It With: Malbec
Planes, Trains And Automobiles
Steve Martin and John Candy — enough said. This tale of travel gone awry is heartfelt comedy at its finest and an exceptional holiday season film to add to your watchlist (particularly before Thanksgiving). You'll need a wine that has a lot of driving forces to mirror the effort put into these characters' schlep, so a red blend that incorporates multiple grape varietals will be your best match.
Pair It With: Red Blend
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
If you're the kind of person who listens to Vince Guaraldi on repeat come fall, then this Charlie Brown suggestion ought to pique your interest. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is one of a few seasonal specials from the iconic series, and the best way to watch it is with a glass of 'orange' wine (to imitate the pumpkin color, obviously). Orange wine is achieved through skin contact; fermenting the white grapes with their skins, giving the wine its amber-hued color. It produces robust, complex wines that are exciting to try any time of year.
Pair It With: ‘Orange’ Wine
Soul Food may not be a film about the holidays but its plot is rooted in the tradition of gathering around the dining table with family — and what's more seasonally appropriate than that? This 1997 comedy-drama is best viewed with a hearty meal and soulful wine close by, like a Chianti. The grape that’s used to make Chianti is called Sangiovese and it produces dry wines with red-fruit and dried-herb notes. In other words, Chianti is oh so delicious with a plate full of food.
Pair It With: Chianti
Addams Family Values
Sarcastic and humorously macabre at times, this 1993 flick starring Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, and Christopher Lloyd among others is a classic fall film that stands the test of time thanks to its memorable storyline and noir fashion inspiration (Wednesday Addams is queen). To sip, go for something straightforward like a Merlot. Medium acidity and tannins plus cooked black fruit flavors like plum and blackberry will solidify its status as a worthy pairing.
Pair It With: Merlot
Mona Lisa Smile
Fall generally conjures memories of going back to school and Mona Lisa Smile's atmospheric setting at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and costume design of berets, tweed suit sets, and leather gloves are autumnal to a tee. Watching it also makes you crave something a bit fancy, which is why a glass of bubbly feels fitting. Whether it's a pour of Champagne or a sip of Spanish Cava, anything in the realm of festively fizzy will do just fine.
Pair It With: Bubbly
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
Any installment in the Harry Potter series always feels cozy to watch during fall. Candlestick-lined dining halls, dimly lit corridors, school uniforms, and the occasional holiday scene peppered in — it’s probably a good idea if you start your marathon now. And while you’re cueing it up, pour yourself a glass of Montepulciano. Hailing from Italy, this deeply colored wine serves up high tannins and medium acidity alongside notes of black cherry and plum.
Pair It With: Montepulciano
Does Sweet November hold a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Technically, yes. But is it still worth watching because Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves doing fall stuff in San Francisco will get you in the spirit of the season? Also, yes. A film like this that stars two beautiful humans doing romantic things for a whole month straight can only be paired with a sultry Syrah. Herbal notes are married with black-pepper aromas and hints of black cherry and blackberry...pure bliss.
Pair It With: Syrah
Autumn In New York
With a title like Autumn in New York and an all-star cast like Winona Ryder and Richard Gere, what's left to do than dim the lights and enjoy 103 minutes of fall foliage and a slightly depressing but all the same romantic storyline? For this film, eschew red and opt for a white with a full-body mouthfeel, like Chardonnay. It's fantastic with food and is an excellent white wine for the colder months of the year.