As the leaves begin to crunch beneath our boots and loafers, we can sense that fall is in full swing. The air is crisp, and there’s an urge to abandon the salads and grilled meats of summer—and opt for something richer instead. The flavors of fall are deeper, filled with leafy greens and the last of the harvest. Big players on the menu include soups, stews, decadent desserts, and a heartier fare—each requiring a wine that will stand up to its boldness. Choosing the proper wine to pair with fall foods can be a very personal experience, but some tips will point you in the right direction. Here are some of our suggestions for a selection of fall favorites.
The ultimate comfort food, this Russian dish has become a popular fall staple. Satisfying and creamy, it’s the perfect way to top off a particularly cold day. Beef Stroganoff can be quite indulgent, with it’s tenderly cooked beef, buttery noodles, and mushrooms. You will need to pair this meal with something that will hold up to the richness of the dish. A heavily-oaked merlot is a nice option. It certainly holds its own and delivers a crave-worthy flavor combination. This low-tannin red also complements the creamy sauce in beef stroganoff.
Satisfying and delicious, a cheesy potato casserole is an ideal dish to warm you up this fall, especially if you are braving the elements. It’s also football season, which makes this easy-to-create dish a filling crowd-pleaser for game days. Velvety cheese atop creamy potatoes pair swimmingly with a lightly oaked chardonnay. The bright acidity of the glass levels the potatoes’ heavy richness, leaving you feeling full and content but not overly stuffed.
In the fall, root vegetables, such as squash and pumpkins, make their way onto our tables. Many side dishes feature butternut squash, and you can create a sweet or savory dish depending on the spices you use. With butternut squash, the best dishes will include cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, or turmeric-based spices. A one-size-fits-all wine for this versatile autumn veggie is almost always pinot noir. Regardless of the type of butternut squash dish, this glass will fit the bill. It’s a light-bodied red with a subtle hint of spice. It pairs perfectly with squash’s earthy, rustic flavor no matter which way you season it.
Perhaps no meal is more important in the fall season than the Thanksgiving feast. When selecting wine, you might want to choose a few great bottles to satisfy the inevitable melting pot that will be your guests’ shared tasting palate. Adding to the challenge is the plethora of side dishes that accompany your turkey. That’s another reason to serve a multitude of wine options. Our favorites for turkey include Beaujolais, a light red French wine which combines nicely (whether you are a fan of white or dark turkey meat). Another option is to go with a pinot noir with its bright high acidity. It also accentuates the sweeter flavors that you may add to your meal, such as cranberry sauce. And finally, Chinon is a stimulating choice due to it’s unique earthy and tangy flavor, making for an exciting and invigorating Thanksgiving dinner match.
French Onion Soup
Stay warm cozy this fall by diving into a delicious French onion soup. The sweetness from the onion and beef-based broth is a treat to enjoy with the creamy melted and slightly salty Gruyère. This dish sits at the intersection of sophisticated and very bold, which is rare. Pairing wine can be quite difficult, but it’s important to single out the most prominent flavors when choosing the pour. Onions actually pair exceptionally well with most wines. For French onion soup, we’d suggest a nice glass of pinot grigio. Its acidity can balance the flavors in the soup; however, it’s robust enough not to get lost.
Pumpkin pie is the quintessential fall dessert. The deep, rich spiced pumpkin amid light and flaky pie crust is a post-dinner sensation. There are several ways to pair it with wine. Port wine is a great initial thought. The richness of the pour pairs very well with the sweetly decadent dessert. It makes for a very luscious dessert adventure. If you want a slightly less dense match, you could try a riesling that is flowery and highly-acidic or a light-bodied, low alcohol Moscato. Due to the heaviness of the dessert itself, a lighter-bodied wine can add a refreshing layer to the experience.