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11 Fall Food and Wine Pairings

If you’re even a little bit of a foodie, fall is likely your favorite season. Not only do you have Foodie Christmas to enjoy (aka Thanksgiving), there are a ton of fruits and vegetables that come up ready to harvest in autumn, including wine grapes! While you’re enjoying nature’s bounty, why not make a great meal more amazing and pair it with the perfect wine? Here are some of our favorite fall foods and a few awesome wines to pair them with.

Fair warning: This list of food pairings and their recipes is going to make you SUPER hungry.

1. Pumpkin

Pairing: Viognier or Barrel-Aged Port

Thanks to pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin is as synonymous with fall as evergreens are with Christmas. You probably don’t want to drink wine with your PSL (or maybe you do, who are we to judge?), but luckily that’s far from the only pumpkin-flavored treat to find this season. How about some lovely pumpkin pie, crunchy pumpkin seeds, or delish pumpkin-stuffed ravioli?

For anything pumpkin, you’ll want an aromatic Viognier. Go for one on the sweet and rich side, like a Paso Robles viognier, for sweeter pumpkin dishes. For salty snacks or savory pumpkin dishes, pick out a lighter and more acidic viognier. Or, if it’s chilly outside and you’re curling up next to the fire with a super-rich pumpkin dessert, try a barrel-aged Port.

2. Apples

Pairing: Gewürztraminer or Vouvray

Before pumpkin took over the world as THE fall flavor, there was the apple. You can get apples year-round, but they’re at their best in late summer and early fall, and there are several incredibly yummy varieties you can only get at this time of year.

Put some raw apple slices on a cheese plate and serve it with a fruity gewürztraminer. Or, if candied apples and apple pie are more your style, search out a lovely, sweet Vouvray.

3. Pears

Pairing: Sauternes

Pears are another popular fall fruit that can be enjoyed raw or transformed into a dreamy dessert. For example, check out America’s Test Kitchen recipe for roasted pears with apricots and pistachios, which would go perfectly with a glass of Sauternes, a French dessert wine with hints of honey, ginger, and lemon, and a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

4. Figs

Pairing: Tawny Porto

Figs are simply gorgeous, and taste wonderful raw, in salads, roasted, or dried. Get your fancy on with a fig and goat cheese grilled pizza with arugula or a fig tart. Or hey, if you’re feeling lazy, go for Fig Newtons! Be sure to grab a tawny Porto to go with any of these treats–a 20-year-old tawny Porto if you can swing it, which has its own hints of fig to go with your dish.

5. Venison or Other Wild Game

Pairing: Red Bordeaux, Barbaresco, or Barolo

Fall means hunting season, and if you have a hunter in the family or are lucky enough to have a butcher who can get their hands on wild game, you’ll probably be looking at eating venison stew or roast.

Because these meats tend to have a strong, rich flavor, you’ll want a big red with lots of tannins that will smooth out when paired with the richness of the meat. A red Bordeaux is an obvious choice; or if you want to impress, go Italian and pick up a Barbaresco or Barolo. (And PS, if you don’t have access to wild game, these wines also work with lamb or beef stew.)

6. Chili Peppers

Pairing: Shiraz

If you live in the southwestern US, you probably associate fall with roasted chili peppers, which find their way into everything from the eponymous “chili,” to dips, sandwiches, enchiladas, and even mac and cheese!

Whether they’re Hatch green chilis or poblanos, the heat, and spice of this regional fall treat can be hard to pair with wine, but not impossible. Go for a bold, spicy red that will match the chili’s flavor for flavor, like an Australian shiraz.

7. Mushrooms

Pairing: Chablis, Champagne, or Rioja

Cultivated mushrooms are available year-round, of course, but the vast majority of wild mushrooms appear in the fall. Think chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, puff mushrooms, honey mushrooms, and hundreds of other varieties.

Whether you’re getting them from a farmer’s market or harvesting them yourself, they make a great snack grilled and layered on top of garlic toast and are perfectly paired with a fresh, unoaked chardonnay like a Chablis or a dry sparkling Champagne. Or, if you prefer reds, pair a Rioja with mushroom soup or mushroom risotto.

8. Sweet Potatoes

Pairing: Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or White Burgundy

From mashed sweet potatoes to fries and pies, it seems like sweet potato is everywhere in the fall. If enjoying it baked into a pie, like shepherd’s pie, pair it with a full-bodied red like Zinfandel. For mashed sweet potatoes, a lighter red blend or pinot noir will do nicely. If baked into fries, go for a more acidic white wine like a white Burgundy.

9. Butternut Squash

Pairing: Dolcetto or Prosecco

Pumpkin’s less popular cousin, butternut squash nevertheless can take you to your happy place when it’s made into soup, or roasted and added to a yummy, comforting risotto.

Pair it with an Italian red like Dolcetto, or go for white and bubbly and pick out a sweet Prosecco to match the sweetness of the squash and lighten up its heavier dishes.

10. Brussels Sprouts

Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

It’s true that Brussels sprouts are the bane of many; but if you eat them when they’re fresh, in the fall, and properly cooked, you can enjoy the delicious nuttiness that makes them taste as close to candy as a green veggie can get.

You can prepare them a bunch of different ways, but my two favorite methods are shredded and sautéed, then topped with cheese and nuts; or roasted in a pan with brown butter and topped with parmesan. Pair Brussels sprouts with a sauvignon blanc that has plenty of herbal notes.

11. Carrots

Pairing: French Viognier or Tokaji

Carrots are another vegetable that is available year-round, but which are at their best in the fall. At this time of year, pick carrots with the greens still attached and, if they’re fresh enough, don’t peel them – the skin contains most of the nutrients!

If you’re munching on them raw in a crudité platter, or serving carrots sautéed simply in butter, go for a light white wine such as a French Viognier. If carrot cake’s more your jam, however, you can’t go wrong with Tokaji, a delightful dessert wine from Hungary that will match the sweet-yet-savory taste of the cake.

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