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Wines & Hearty Autumn Food

With the arrival of fall, not only do the colors of the leaves change, the food we eat is also different. This is the season of harvest, with many fruits and vegetables being freshly available. Fall also marks the coming of festive period such as Thanksgiving, and that means the time to feast! With the colder weather setting in, richer food will replace light, refreshing dishes. The wine pairing should be updated too, to match this heartier fare.

Pumpkin is synonymous with fall. From pies to pastas, side dish to main dish, pumpkin is versatile as a sweet or savory ingredient. Viognier generally pairs really well with pumpkin, especially in pastas like ravioli or lasagne. If you are making pumpkin stew, then go for medium-bodied reds like Merlot and Syrah. Should you include pumpkin in soup and creamy risotto, then opt for slightly acidic white wines like Chardonnay, Albariño or even sparkling white like Prosecco.

Game meat is a highlight of autumn as the hunting season begins. Venison, wild duck, grouse and boars make their appearances on menus. Venison is exquisite in taste and deserves to be paired with an excellent Rhone red like Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a classic Bordeaux. Should you be fortunate enough to savor wild boar during autumn, bring out your top Chianti for this special occasion.

Duck and goose are fattier meats and match well with acidic wines that will cut through the grease. Go for an Australian Shiraz, classic Rhone or Burgundy red.

Other autumn game birds are delicious when roasted or slow-cooked. For roasted birds, this is the best time to open a fine bottle of St-Émilion. The well-roundedness on the palate and berry accent in aroma makes this wine irresistible and truly complements the juicy roast perfectly. For slow-cooked casseroles, a robust Cabernet Sauvignon will pair well.

With a bounty of root vegetables and orchard full of fruits, a fall salad made up of butternut squash, brussels sprouts, beets, pears and berries can be a filling meal on its own. Go for a low-alcohol German Riesling with slightly acidic taste that would bring out the subtle sweetness of the root vegetables and luscious autumn fruits. If the salad is heavier on leafy vegetables like kale and brussels sprouts, then select a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that would nicely bring out the herbal notes and vegetal qualities of the greens. Given the abundance of apples during this season, you should definitely stock up on some Italian Moscato, Canadian ice wine, or raisiny Tawny port from Portugal’s Douro Valley to go with homemade apple strudels, tarts and pies.