Let’s be honest, there’s really only one good reason to celebrate kissing the summer months goodbye, and that’s the return of our favorite fall flavors. After three months of endless rosé and high acid whites, we’re ready to welcome back reds and revel in some savory food and wine pairings. As the weather chills down, the kitchen turns up with these faultless fall wine pairings for all of your favorite ingredients.
Pecans – Oregon pinot noir
Walnuts in dessert breads, almonds in salads, and peanuts at ball games–where have all the pecans gone? Pecans are one of those underrated nuts that seem to sneak their way into our diets only in the last months of the year; however, this savory snack pairs perfectly with a lighter bodied red, specifically Pinot Noir from Oregon. Next time you host a happy hour, place a bowl of these babies on the table with your bottle of Willamette Pinot–your guests will thank you.
Brussels sprouts – chardonnay from Macon Fuisse or Macon villages
The once “most detested vegetable” in history is finally getting some positive press. No one loves Brussels sprouts in the raw, but drizzled with some olive oil and roasted in the oven until golden brown is a whole other story. The robust flavor profile of roasted Brussels sprouts comes alive when paired with a bottle of lightly oaked Chardonnay from the Macon region of Burgundy. Inexpensive and healthy? We’ll take two.
Cranberry – zinfandel from California
If there’s one single red that gets us pumped for chilly weather, it’s Zinfandel. Despite suffering a bad rep from the White Zinfandel craze of the late twentieth century, red Zinfandel is an ideal fall red. The juicy, lightly spiced notes of a California Zin pair impeccably with the sweet yet tart characteristics of cranberry. Sauce, dried, in a salad, however you like, served alongside Zin, your dish will shine.
Apple – Chenin Blanc
There is no tasting note more synonymous with Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley than all things apple. Tart, yet sweet, residual sugar or not, this grape shines all over the spectrum in the terroirs of the Loire Valley. There’s truly a Chenin perfectly suited for all of your apple needs. Pairing with sweet apple desserts such as pies or tarts? Search for a Coteaux du Layon, a rich dessert wine made from botrytized Chenin Blanc. Looking for a drier option? Check out the sparkling’s from Vouvray, which come in all levels of dry to sweet.
Kale – Grüner Veltliner from Austria or Picpoul de Pinet
No need to kiss those high acid summer whites goodbye just yet! Kale, oftentimes seen as impossible in the food-wine pairing world, actually benefits from zingy acidity found in certain whites, such as Grüner-Veltliner from Austria or Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc Roussillon. The latter, literally translating to “lip stinging” from the local dialect, displays lemon-like flavor profiles with an acidity that cuts through the bitterness associated with the leafy green. If the kale here implies that we’re saving calories by having salad for dinner, we’ll take a bottle of each white, please.
Fig – Australian shiraz or Alsatian pinot Gris
We love the versatility of figs; not only do they do well with an array of accompanying ingredients, but their flavor profiles are so diverse when paired with various wines. For a heartier fig and wine pairing, grab an aged Gouda and jammy, Australian Shiraz for a full-bodied fall fiesta. For a lighter, slightly sweet touch, look to Alsace for an off-dry Pinot Gris to perfectly complement the sugars of the fruit–even more heavenly when a dab of goat cheese is brought into the mix.
Butternut squash – Viognier
Could there be a more quintessential fall ingredient than butternut squash? While also a chameleon for food and wine pairing, we love a solid butternut squash dish with a New-World Viognier. Look to California or Australia for this full-bodied white; the honeyed, floral notes of the wine are heavenly with this hearty vegetable, whether it’s in spaghetti, ravioli, or soup form.
By: Vicki Denig