May 31, 2019
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Amber, red and golden hues, earlier dusk and crunching leaves underfoot. As summer slowly creeps away, you can almost smell fall in the air in wine country, California. As an Australian migrant, I’ve realized fall time for Americans means so much more than it does anywhere in the world. My girlfriend dreams of autumn all year round. Elated, she assures me our kitchen will be taken over as she shares with me her family’s favourite fall time foods.
When we think of fall cuisine, what are we really talking about? For me as a chef, this simply means eating seasonal and abundant ingredients. In season fruit and vegetables are generally cheaper, grown and harvested more locally and exhibit the best flavour. Undeniably, fall in America means pumpkins aplenty and for wine lovers, a slight shift in our go-to drop. Fall is also synonymous with hearty, succulent turkey roasts, fixings and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, which certainly calls for a jolly, fruity, aromatic red wine. But boy is there plenty more meals and fall harvest combinations to be had. If you weren’t already inspired, I’m encouraging you to discover new wines and new ingredients and cuisines this season.
As VinePair eloquently described, select wines that provide a middle ground between light, crisp and refreshing summer favourites and rich, smooth and warming winter wines. That means light-to-medium bodied varieties (white and red) are fall’s best friend.
Squash certainly takes the limelight but let’s not forget the plentiful harvest of apples, beetroots, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms and leafy greens such as chard, spinach and kale. Below are some meal ideas with wines to suit.
For the warmers states in the US, rosé season isn't over yet. If the mercury is above 70º, I’ll be grilling out and still happily reaching for rosé. Rosé is exciting, stylistically diverse and f*ing delicious, especially those with Pinot Noir but also full-bodied grapes like Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rosé wines that feature a mild savoury palate pair delightfully well with flame-grilled poultry, shellfish, spiced fall veg and seasonal salads. Try out my grilled chicken tenders with sweet potato puree and brussels sprouts with bacon.
Among the moreish Sunday roasts, are still everyday vegetable, fish and poultry dishes or take out. Here are some medium-bodied white wines to seek out and keep on hand. Viognier is a dry white with a distinct palate of stone fruit and honeysuckle. Italian Soave exhibits a smooth, nuttiness with honeydew melon and orange zest, while Semillon welcomes a toasty, spicy and honey nuanced white wine. Fall is also a time to enjoy Chardonnay with mouthwatering toasted piecrusts filled with cinnamon stewed pomme fruit.
If you’re a seeker of spice with seasonal veg, consider a roasted pumpkin Thai Massaman curry, Indian spiced cauliflower korma or baked trout with stir-fried rainbow chard all pairing fabulously with a crisp or even off-dry white wine.
As the holiday season draws closer and the temperature gradually drops, its time to justify uncorking some delicious red wine, and Russian River (better yet Fort Ross-Seaview) Pinot Noir is already calling my name. Wines from premium producers of the maritime-influenced Sonoma coast (including Raen and Flowers) display serious old-world sophistication, kissed with dark fruit and delightful hints of warm holiday baking spice. Celebrate seasonal produce with squash-centric pasta, risotto and ravioli dishes like my pumpkin, goat’s cheese and nutmeg ravioli with sautéed garlic and fennel (pictured).
Another medium-bodied red varietal I love both quaffing and cooking with is Syrah. Whether it’s a delicate Rhône valley blend, a perfumed Washington state expression or a voluptuous and peppery Shiraz from Heathcote, Australia, seek out Syrah for a seriously satisfying sip. Syrah’s fruit forward nature makes for a wine suitable for poaching and stewing fruit to serve fresh or filling a fall supper pie. Try my wicked 30-minute star anise and cinnamon poached pears with creamy vanilla pannacotta and berries.
Beaujolais “nouveau” is another super easy drinking red wine. Some sceptics may proclaim it shouldn’t be held to the same standard as other French wine by virtue of its less complex, candied red fruit flavour, “bubblegum” aromas and very soft tannin. In France (and other parts of the world) charming Gamey based red wine is released shortly after fermentation on the third Thursday of November. I think it’s a perfect, cheerful drinking wine utterly befitting for Thanksgiving but simply a must-sip throughout the season.
The list is endless, and the food and wine world is your oyster. My main advice is to pick a different wine from the shelf then you’re used to and spice things up in the kitchen with interesting worldly recipes and flavours. See my recipe below for a fall brunch idea.
Tim is an Australian food and wine writer, accredited nutritionist (BHSc) and private chef in Napa Valley California. Tim regularly hosts lunches and dinner events in wine country, proudly utilizing local ingredients and wine and sharing his insight on global cuisine. Discover Tim’s seasonal recipes and multicultural food ideas on his Instagram @fuelingpassion or email Tim at email@example.com
- 2 small (2-3 oz.) tomatoes (thinly sliced)
- ½ small (2 oz.) Brown or white Onion (finely sliced)
- 1 small (400 - 600g) butternut squash (½ inch diced)
- 400g tinned garbanzo beans (rinsed)
- 400g tinned Atlantic or Alaskan salmon (red or pink)
- 3 large field mushrooms (sliced)
- 2 cups baby spinach (loosely packed)
- small sprig of dill
- small sprig of thyme
- white pepper to taste
- 12 free range eggs
- 2 cup reduced (low) fat milk
- 40 – 80g reduced fat, reduced salt Swiss cheese (or Feta, goat’s cheese.
- zest of 1 lemon (finely grated)
Tim is an Australian food and wine writer and accredited nutritionist. When cooking, Tim loves using healthy, local ingredients accented with bold multicultural flavors. Discover Tim’s endless recipes and multicultural food ideas on Instagram @tc_neumann or through Beverage Trade Network articles.