Wine Picks for Fall

By Mattie Jackson, CSW | October 26, 2015
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As we move briskly into the true heart of fall, it’s time to pull out the sweaters and whip up the stews. Our favorite dishes shift from bright salads to savory soups, backyard BBQ to decadent risottos. And while classic autumn dishes tend to air on the savory side of things, many also boast an underlying sweetness, posing a pesky challenge for many vinous partners. Think toothpaste and orange juice. The natural sugars in roasted root vegetables, sweet sauces, and fruity jams or compotes can make ordinarily delicious wines taste bitter, acidic, and unpleasant. Sweetness in food may be one of most challenging obstacles in food and wine pairing, but don’t throw out that butternut squash yet! Here are a few of our favorites that will make your best sweet & savory dishes sing. 

1. Off-Dry Riesling

Let us be clear – sweet does not mean cheap. Most Rieslings are indeed produced in an off-dry, or slightly sweet, style, but this has nothing to do with lack of quality. Because Riesling grows best in cold, marginal climates, winemakers often leave a small amount of natural grape sugar to balance out what would otherwise be a staunchly acidic wine. So to all who claim themselves foodies, Riesling should be your best friend. A brilliant balancing act between delicate fruit and piercing minerality, premium off-dry Riesling is the ultimate food wine. It makes sweet foods taste lighter, salty foods taste brighter, and its silky, sleek texture matches beautifully with savory grains and casseroles. And bonus – its typically low alcohol percentage makes it perfect for aggressively spicy dishes – i.e. hot chicken!
FOH Nashville Rockin’ Riesling 
Mosel, Germany 
$14.99 **Proceeds go to Feed Our Homeless Nashville Project** 

2. Rich, Dry Rosé

Yes, Summer is over, but rosé is here to stay! Though many rosés are, in fact, seasonal productions, look to producers from flagship areas of Provence and southern France for year-round availability. This southern French, Grenache-driven blend is fruity and feminine like a white but structured and dry like a red. A crowd pleaser for all occasions, its soft red berry flavors sing at any temperature and play nicely with a variety of sweet and savory apps, dips, hors d’oeuvres, and sauces.  
Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rosé Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah 
Languedoc, France

3. Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

With November’s Beaujolais season on the horizon, we’re loving this domestic ode to Beaujolais, a style that begs for fall’s best fare. Often donned the ultimate Thanksgiving wine, Beaujolais is light in body, packed with fruit, yet wrapped tightly in a gripping, herbal package--great for novice red drinkers and wine geeks alike! Our favorite is 100% Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon. This gem is tossed in the tank as whole berry clusters and vinified to emulate the cherry coke, red-candied style of French Beaujolais. The perfect red aside sweet sauces, root veggies, and anything maple-roasted.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon 

4. Rich Red Blend

Though many fall recipes do incorporate sweetness, a great number rely primarily on savory ingredients – creamy risottos, funky mushrooms, truffles, hearty pastas – for rich yet  earthy dishes that call for full-bodied wine. But be wary of tannin! Silky, juicier reds will allow veggie-driven dishes to remain center stage in the pairing while wines with high tannin can be overpowering. Try basic red blends like this dense, dark, luscious wine from Chile with polenta, black bean burgers, or for sipping on its own.
Lagar de Bezana Amalgama Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Syrah (30%) 
Cachapoal, Chile 

5. Langhe Nebbiolo

Finally, for those hard-to-pair healthy items: brussel sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, kale. The key to pairing these highly bitter and acidic vegetables is to fight fire with fire, so to speak. High acid bitter foods need to be challenged by high acid bitter wines. Enter Nebbiolo. This astructured and earthy Italian specialty displays dried tobacco flavors with a powerfully drying finish. A simple bowl of roasted tomato soup will mellow out the wine and highlight all of its sweet cherry fruit flavors. Feminine and strong, this Langhe Nebbiolo offers an affable introduction to the Piedmont region’s flagship grape and an incredible value in place of the much pricier Barolo. Drink with tomatoes, bitter greens, cured and smoked meats.
Demarie Langhe Nebbiolo
Piedmont, Italy
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