Raise a Glass to Autumn Leaves: Fall Food and Wine Pairings
Written by Missa Capozzo, Director of Sommology on November 9, 2015
Fall colors and fine wines
Autumn brings us cool, crisp air, intoxicating colors of red, orange, and yellow painting the trees, the desire to cuddle up in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace, and occasions to surround ourselves with family and friends. Comfort food begins to make its appearance after a summer filled with fresh, seasonal lighter dishes. Sangrias are replaced with warm mulled wine, hot dogs and burgers on the grill are replaced with chili and wings.
With family dinners, holiday gatherings, and tailgating parties, this is a wonderful time of year to showcase your food and wine pairings. From appetizers to dessert, there truly is a wine pairing for everything you serve.
Pebbles and pumpkins
The autumn months just scream pumpkin and apple everything! Pumpkin and apple pies are a staple on the Thanksgiving dessert table. We tend to think of enjoying these foods with an after dinner coffee, but the proper wine will do them even more justice.
Whether you’re serving a pumpkin risotto, a warm pumpkin bread right out of the oven, or that slice of pumpkin pie, you want to enhance all those wonderful fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. A Viognier with a nice fullness to it, such as 2014 Pebble, Mendocino Viognier will complement your pumpkin dishes beautifully. Viogniers typically display ripe apricot, nectarine, and tropical fruit flavors framed by baking spices, which complement fall spices in food, and pumpkin breads and gingerbread allow the wine to bring those spices to the forefront.
When serving a sweeter pumpkin dish or dessert you cannot go wrong with a wine a bit sweeter
When serving a sweeter pumpkin dish or dessert, perhaps pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or pumpkin whoopie pies, you cannot go wrong with a wine a bit sweeter, such as 2015 Smirk, Western Cape Moscatel, South Africa. The sweetness in the food and the wine will match each other and create a wonderfully smooth flavor on the palate. Watch the fall spices come to life!
One of the staple activities in New England during the fall is to go apple picking. Once we get home with our bushels of apples, it’s time to get cooking! Warm apple crisps, apple pies, homemade applesauce, baked apples, even pork tenderloin with apples, they’re all on the menu!
Just like with your sweeter pumpkin dishes, Smirk, Moscatel will pair deliciously with your apple dishes and enhance their fall spices. As with the sweeter pumpkin desserts, the mild sweetness and the nutty, earthy notes of the Moscatel will harmonize with the sweetness in the apple desserts.
Football and wine
I love to cuddle up by the tv on Sundays and watch my favorite football team, but what’s a football Sunday without game food? Homemade chili is one of my favorite things to make for the game. We usually think of beer pairing with chili, but try it with an off-dry Riesling like our 2014 Calamity Sue, Mendocino Riesling to connect the stone fruit flavors with the spices of the chili or a Spanish red blend like our 2014 Oja!, organic Monastrell/Syrah, Yecla, Spain. The savory sweet spice of the oak and tart cherry will round this out perfectly.
When you think sweet, think heat!
Prefer to watch the game with buffalo wings or dip? Pair them with 2014 Calamity Sue, Mendocino Riesling and you’ll never have them any other way! When you think sweet, think heat! The sweet honey tones of Calamity Sue contrast with the spice of the buffalo dip to bring you the perfect flavor balance.
Jazz up your presentation by dropping a couple of raspberries or even cranberries in your glasses
The holidays bring about gatherings and parties like no other time of year. I like to kick off any celebration with a nice, crisp bubbly. Our Streamer sparkling white is ideal, as its faint sweetness, mild citrus nose, and lively bubbles appeal to almost everyone.
You can even jazz up your presentation by dropping a couple of raspberries or even cranberries in your glasses for visual appeal. A sparkling wine is also very food friendly and would pair nicely with just about any hors d’oeuvre.
A grateful glass
When we think of Thanksgiving, the first thing we tend to think of is a dinner table filled with as many side dishes as we can imagine surrounding a big golden brown turkey: the butternut squash, that delicious homemade stuffing, fresh corn, sweet potatoes – they all tend to make it onto our dinner plates.
I like to have a selection of white and red wines for my guests. 2014 Pebble, Mendocino Viognier with its delicious fall spices, or a nice medium weight Chardonnay such as 2013 Zeffer Hills, San Benito County Chardonnay would be the way to go with a white wine, as you want a fullness and roundness to the wine that pairs with your feast. The light oak of Zeffer Hills lends a bit of warmth, with toasted almond and ripe apple notes and the creamy mouthfeel will match the textures of the foods on your Thanksgiving dish perfectly.
2014 Tria Reserve, Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is a perfect red alongside your turkey dinner, as it is a lighter/medium weight red that won’t overpower the turkey and side dishes, but will instead complement them. The graham-cracker spice and notes of dried fruit of Tria will tie all of your warm, fall spices and flavors together.
Just the beginning
These are a few of my favorite food and pairings of the harvest season but the possibilities are endless. What is your favorite autumn pairing? Share it below or on Instagram as #TVFallPairing.