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The Best Food and French Wine Pairings for Fall

Vicki Denig By Vicki Denig, Editor 11.15.2020
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Scrumptious, savory, and downright satisfying, it’s no surprise that foodies everywhere countdown the days until this time of year – and the wines that pair with said flavors are just as exciting.  

Among the plethora of reasons to love fall, the seasonal flavors (and their wine pairings) are at the top of the list. 

Come autumn, mushrooms, root vegetables, and hearty stews are in no lack, and these dishes scream for something equally robust to be washed down with. We’ve rounded up ten quintessential food and wine pairings for fall that promise to keep you warm all season long. Get your glasses ready – it’s about to be a delicious season.

Pumpkin Soup - Viognier (Rhône)

Pumpkin soup and Viognier may just be the most quintessential fall pairing of them all. The sweet yet savory flavors found in root vegetables are beautifully complemented by the unctuous, floral-driven notes found in Viognier. For top-notch varietal expressions of the grape, look no further than the Northern Rhône appellations of Condrieu or ChâteauGrillet.

Mushroom Risotto - Pinot Noir (Burgundy)

Mushrooms and Pinot Noir go hand in hand. Whether roasted, grilled, or prepared in a savory risotto, the earth-driven notes of the dish are brought to life by the zesty, soil-driven notes found in Old World Pinot Noir. For affordable Red Burgundy that overdelivers for the price, we recommend seeking out Bourgogne Rouge bottlings from reputable producers.

Braised Beef Stews - Syrah (Rhône)

Hearty meat-based stews scream for something equally robust to stand up to their heavy nature – enter Syrah. The peppery, meat-driven notes in the wine accentuate the flavors found in the dish, and the juice’s ample tannins, bright acidity, and solid structure harmoniously collide on the palate. In other words, each component of this pairing brings out the best that the other half has to offer. This is fall food and wine pairing in one of its finest forms.

Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage - Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley)

Loire Valley Chenin is known for its flavors of green apples, honey, and crushed rocks, all of which mesh perfectly with the fall-inspired flavors of Brown Butte and Sage sauce. The lively acidity found in the wine promises to keep you palate quenched with every bite of sautéed gnocchi that hits your lips. Forget spaghetti and red sauce – these are the carbs you want on your plate this fall.

Crockpot Chili - Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux) 

Crockpot chili recipes can take a lot of directions. However, meats, veggies, and some sort of stock generally always make their way into the mix. Grabbing a bottle of Left Bank (Cabernet-dominant) Bordeaux offers the tannins, acid, and backbone required to stand up to the heartiness of the dish, no matter what finds its way inside the pot. (Vegans and vegetarians, fear not – your crockpot chilis, whether lentil, mushroom, or bean-based, scream for something just as robust.) You can’t go wrong with this pairing.

Roasted Butternut Squash - Chardonnay (Jura, Burgundy, Languedoc)

Chardonnay is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades grape, in that it basically grows anywhere and everywhere, as well as can be vinified in a variety of styles. Similar to pumpkin, butternut squash and other root vegetables come to life when paired with a rich-yet-balanced bottle of white. For rounder expressions of the grape that don’t lack in the acidity department, look to reputable producers from the Jura, Burgundy, or Languedoc (the latter of which promises to provide some seriously affordable options).

Kale, Apple, & Sweet Potato Salad - Riesling (Alsace) 

Kale, salads, and other green vegetables often get a bad rep in the food and wine pairing department, as they’re frequently deemed ‘impossible’ to marry with delicious wine. However, Riesling is here to save the day. The bright acid and citrus-driven flavors found in Alsatian Rieslings stand up to the bitter flavors in kale, the sweetness of the apples, and the savory nature of sweet potatoes. We can’t think of a better choice for seasonally-inspired healthy lunches.

Cranberry & Brie Toasts - Sparkling Wine (Champagne, Crémant from Jura, Loire, or Alsace)

For a fall apéro at home that promises to impress, simply throw some brie in the oven, smear onto toast, sprinkle with cranberries, and serve with a thirst-quenching glass of bubbly. The ample amounts of acidity and leesy undertones found in traditional method sparkling wines cut through the richness of the brie, yet deliciously complement the grainy flavors of homemade bread. French-inspired soirées at home never tasted so good.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives - Gamay (Beaujolais)

Nothing quenches the palate like a chilled glass of Gamay from Beaujolais. The tart flavors of red fruit and pepper found in the wine pair beautifully with the sweet nature of the potatoes, while the ample amounts of zippy acidity cut through the richness of the sour cream. This may sound like a side dish, though truthfully, we’d be happy downing this for dinner without a second thought.

Cinnamon Apple Crisp - Dessert Wine (Bordeaux, Loire Valley, South West)

For a sweet, seasonal pairing that goes the limits, look no further than apple-based desserts (crumbles, pies, or crisps) and a glass of liquid gold from Bordeaux (Sauternes, Barsac), the Loire Valley (Bonnezeaux, Coteaux du Layon, Quarts de Chaumes), or South West France (Montbazillac, Jurancon, and beyond). Remember, when pairing desserts with wine, the juice should always be sweeter than the dish in question. Although each of these wines are produced from different grape varieties, each boasts a high residual sugar content that promises to bring the best out of your apple-based dessert. Bonus points for picking the apples and preparing the dish yourself!

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