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The Grapevine: Falling for wine


By Missa Capozzo

The year 2020 has been anything but ordinary and routine, but one thing that doesn’t change is the beauty of New England fall foliage, the crisp air ushering in, the introduction of comfort foods, and the shift to heavier bodied wines.

When I think of fall flavors, the very first thing that comes to mind is pumpkin and apple. My entire world changed when I discovered both of these flavors can become even more delicious when paired with the proper wines, especially the desserts.

Pumpkin flavored dishes don’t always need to be sweet, and Viognier is the perfect match for these hearty, savory dishes. Viognier displays its own notes of baking spice, which will complement those very same spices in various foods. Viognier is a weightier white wine, so it has the body to stand up to heartier dishes. Pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli is a perfect example of such a dish. Another favorite is pumpkin risotto, or even a side dish of sweet potatoes and cinnamon butter. Want to enjoy Viognier with your entree and dessert? This wine is scrumptious with gingerbread, or even pumpkin pie squares with a gingerbread crust.

Maybe pumpkin isn’t your forte and you prefer hearty, spicy chili. Riesling is the perfect white wine match, whether dry, off-dry, or on the sweeter side. With various amounts of residual sugar and high acid, it will complement the chili spices and leave you with a flavor explosion on the palate. Perhaps you prefer a red. An Oregon Pinot Noir would be a lovely choice to sip alongside your chili. The lighter red fruits and soft tannins will provide the perfect complement to the chili spice without lighting your palate on fire.

Pinot Noir is also a perfect wine for pork dishes, such as chops or pork roast. Add some apple slices and cloves to your pork and bring out the warm spice and herb notes of the wine for a fabulous combination. Carry this wine over into dessert and serve dark chocolate covered strawberries to really make the strawberry and raspberry notes of this wine shine brightly.

So often on those cool fall evenings, we gather around the fire pit in our coziest hoodies, the smoke filling the air with that comforting aroma of burnt wood. Nights like that make me want to slice up the smoked Gouda and pour a glass of Pinotage. This red gem from South Africa has a rustic quality and notes of smoke, and makes such a beautiful pairing with smoked meats and bacon.

Cool weather always has me reaching for a hefty red wine that warms me to the core. Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State provides us with a beautiful sipping wine as well as a fantastic food pairing wine. The palate bursts with juicy cassis and black fruits, as well as some earthy notes. With its medium to full body, these Cabs can stand up perfectly to a hearty mac and cheese or even a savory beef stew—the ultimate comfort foods.

Whether you prefer whites or reds, dry wines or off-dry wines, the perfect wine and fall food pairings are plentiful and sure to please any palate.