Some of the tastiest winter ingredients are also the most difficult to pair with wine. Sometimes they're served savory and sometimes used in desserts - think chestnuts and pumpkin. If you're looking for the best pairings to elevate your fall and winter vegetable ingredients, we've got you covered with the best wine pairings for those hard to pair fall vegetables.
Everything you need to know to get you through Thanksgiving and the holiday season!
Pairing chestnuts with wine
For savory dishes, choose a neutral, white wine, or a fruity white, not oaked or aged.
A Lugana white from Lake Garda, made with the Turbiana grape is a good choice. It's fruity with some minerality. Choose a young wine - 2020 or 2021: Cà dei Frati, Zanatto wines, Tenuta Roveglia that bring out the sweet and bitter balance of chestnuts.
If you prefer red choose one with lower tannins and higher acidity. like Tazzelenghe, a red Italian wine grape variety from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy from producer Conte d’Attimis-Maniago. In the words of the current owner, Count Alberto: “Our relationship with the vine and the vineyard is a family union which has lasted over 400 years“.
Schioppettino is another good choice, a red Italian wine grape grown predominantly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. The grape is believed to have originated between the comune of Prepotto and the Slovenian border where records of Schiopettino wine date back to 1282. A great producer is Ronchi di Cialla: a nice balance of fruity and acid.
For a dish like pasta with a chestnut cream choose a wine made with the garganega grape (think soave), and producers like Pieropan or Coffele that use these great authentic native whites... dryer and more mineral so cuts through the creaminess well.
This Radicchio Ravioli with Chestnut Cream, Sizzled Pork Jowl and Fried Sage is so delicious!
Pairing chestnuts with wine in a dessert
If, on the other hand, chestnuts are part of a dessert like Montblanc, the wine must be sweet: excellent choices are Aleatico dell’Elba or Chambave Muscat Fletri from Valle d'Aosta. Serve it chilled.
Or a brachetto slightly sparkling red sweet wine, or even a Moscato d'Asti sparkling white - both from Piedmont.
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Pairing porcini (and other) mushrooms with wine
Porcini are very floral and delicate so dial down what you do with wine. Choose a wine from where the mushrooms grow, like a Barolo. Better not a nebbiolo wine which is very complex and impactful and can overpower mushrooms.
The best choice is a Piedmont Barbera. Choose a producer like Michele Chiarlo or Damilano...more delicate, more fruit.
If you prefer a white then choose a chardonnay...very young, that’s aged in steel.
Or even a falanghina or pecorino from abruzzo, or a trebbiano from abruzzo.
Choose cerasuolo if you want rosé. Either one from Sicily made with the native grape frappato, or one from Abruzzo made with the Montepulciano di Abruzzo grape.
Pairing pumpkin with wine
Savory pumpkin and squash wine pairing
For savory pumpkin and squash: choose a fiano from Campania, a Catarratto from Sicily. or a red Cannonau from Sardegna.
Catarratto is a white Italian wine grape planted primarily in Sicily where it is the most widely planted grape.
White wines that are dry, tangy or floral are usually a good match.
With the popular ravioli dish in Italy often served with crisp-fried sage and brown butter: serve a good Soave or a rich Sicilian white like a Fiano.
Rosé is great with a butternut squash: Barone di Villagrande makes a delicious Etna Rosato, from Mount Etna. It has a gorgeous color, the red of Tropea onion skins. It's lovely, very floral, very savory.
Pumpkin and squash desserts wine pairing
The general rule is to serve sweet with sweet and not try to contrast.
Serve a sweet passito with pumpkin desserts: not sticky sweet, but with some acidity: Benrye, Donna Fugata from Pantelleria is a great choice.
Or try an Umbrian Muffato, or Anselmo from the Veneto.
With candied carrots that have some caramelization see what else is on the plate and pair the wine with it; try to cut the sugar a bit but not fight with it. While tannins will fight, a light-bodied fruity wine like a Susumaniello from Puglia won't. It's fresher, crunchier, with no tannins. Producers to try: Tenuta Rubino, or Masseria del Tacco.
Try a rosé susumaniello in your starter courses then move into a red susumaniello in second courses.
Pairing truffles with wine
With truffles choose a sparkling dry white, the lightest body you can get: light-bodied, fruity and floral. A good choice is a chardonnay from the north or Carricante from Eastern Sicily. Carricante is an ancient white wine grape variety from Eastern Sicily. It is thought to have been growing on the volcanic slopes of Mt Etna for at least a thousand years.
A blanc de blanc. prosecco made with methodo classico, or a franciacorta.
Pairing artichokes with wine
Artichokes are often served slivered in a salad, deep-fried or served alla romana (Roman style stuffed artichokes). However prepared. they're delicious, but they are a challenge to pair with wine.
Sommelier Cynthia Chaplin’s go-to artichoke pairing is wine made with the bellone grape, an ancient grape from Lazio that the Caesars were drinking way back when. This grape grows along the Lazio Coast south of Rome in very dry and mineral terrain because the ground is volcanic. Cynthia suggest a few producers: Marco Carpinetti, Ciccinato and Casale del Giglio that make antium wine.
Cynthia's favorite of the three is Carpinetti and their dry bellone goes best with artichokes like these deep fried artichokes.
Matching Food and Wine says:
"Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
Serving them raw or with rare meat also seems to mitigate the sweetening effect as does incorporating them into a creamy risotto as they do in Venice and the rest of northern Italy where you could happily drink a Soave or a Bianco di Custoza with them.
As usual with a tricky ingredient (blue cheese is another example) it depends how much artichoke there is in a recipe and whether there are other ingredients on the plate that counter-balance its flavor.
A palate coating ingredient such as olive oil, butter or an egg or butter-based sauce such as hollandaise will mitigate its effects. If you’re dressing them with an oil-based dressing adding a little finely grated lemon peel seems to help.
Artichokes always have an influence on a wine choice but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need dictate it, simply modify it. With a spring vegetable risotto that contained artichokes for instance you could still go for a dry white but one with a more rustic flavour than you might have otherwise done such as a Verdicchio or Vermentino. Adding wine-friendly grated parmesan or parmesan shavings will assist the match
Strong dry rosés such as Tavel are also a reasonable match for artichokes as are light dry Italian reds. Reds with marked acidity seem to work much better than those with tannins or an overtly fruity character."
More on food and wine pairings
Looking for information on the best holiday wines? Here you go!
Field and Forest says that "the basic concept of wine and food pairing comes down to determining which combinations complement or enhance the aromas and flavors of both the food and wine. Wine and food can complement or contrast each other, as long as they do not mask each other's unique flavors and characteristics. Some general guidelines are:
- Sweet foods taste less sweet when paired with tannic wines.
- Salty foods emphasize the tannins in wine.
- Salty foods mask the sweetness while pronouncing the fruitiness of a wine.
- Salty or sweet foods will soften wines that are acidic.
- Acidic wines will have a cleansing mouth-feel with foods heavy in oils.
- Proteins soften harsh tannins, which is why red tannic wines work well with beef and game.
- Spicy foods often pair well with fruity, low-alcohol wines like riesling and gewurztraminer.
- Sweet foods generally go well with wine that is slightly sweeter.
- A wine high in tannins (like cabernet sauvignon) paired with a food high in tannins (spicy tomato sauce) will make the wine taste very dry and astringent."
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