There’s nothing like Autumn. For much of the country, it means shades of red and orange pepper the landscape, temperatures drop and a steady breeze always seems to find your cheek. For others, it’s a loose extension of summer, with an occasional dew-filled morning or overcast day. But regardless of whether you live in a cold climate or somewhere a bit warmer, we can all still channel our inner Chef (insert trending television personality) and cook up some fall meals paired perfectly with wine. Or, at the very least, bring a bottle to a seasonal restaurant and fork over the corkage fee.
Before you run off to the kitchen to get started, I want to discuss a few general points in the wine pairing department.
Below, is a quick write-up for Gamay and Pinot Noir and the fall dishes they pair with best. Be sure to check out the highlighted producers as well.
The flagship grape of Beaujolais is a miracle worker that complements numerous dishes, making it a fail-safe choice whenever in a pairing pickle. Gamay is a relatively new varietal in California and has yet to pick up steam, but the few examples being produced are quite lovely. It is a light, quaffable, lip-smacking wine with notes of watermelon jolly rancher, and wild strawberry.
A lot of this fruitiness can be attributed to a reaction known as carbonic maceration. Simply put, carbon dioxide is added in a closed environment (vats or bins) and begins breaking down the grapes. The result is a prepubescent wine, clocking in around 2 – 3% alcohol before primary fermentation cranks it up to a respectable percentage. A short aging stint in stainless steel or neutral barrel is de rigueur and, voila, you have a vibrant juice bomb ready to pop and pour.
Gamay wines are a favorite accompaniment to cold plates because there is little to no tannic grip and the acid can cut through many fatty foods. It’s a fun, lighthearted wine that oozes character and youthfulness. Word to the wise: the wineries listed below will give you a warm heart and a heavy hand with the wonderful Gamay-based wines they produce. You may want to buy multiple bottles.
Click the links below to see Gamay wines from top producers
Joseph Drouhin - France
Stolpman Vineyards - California
Failla - Oregon
Chateau De Bachelards - France
- Charcuterie Spread: various pates, rillettes, Prosciutto di Parma, sopressata, ham (click here for inspiration)
- Cheese Spread: camembert, brie, chevre (anything soft and creamy will do)
- Other Dishes: turkey prepared in a light style, cold pasta dishes, salads – fruit or veggie
This ancient “noble grape” can produce silken wines of such elegance, you might as well drink it from a goblet while perched on a throne. Although Pinot Noir takes on various forms, for the purpose of this article I will focus on California’s ripe and rich types that use new oak regimens for bonus layers of complexity and spice.
Because of its extreme ripeness and higher alcohol, Cali Pinots can reach a full-bodied status while still preserving a respectable level of acidity. All of these elements permit this lush and bold style to stand up to heartier fall dishes. The best producers will allow some earthiness to shine through the ripe fruit, while also integrating the alcohol and oak. The outcome is a seamless wine with an opulent texture that complements protein and sauce-heavy meals.
When compared to Gamay, you can expect a tannic grip, higher alcohol, denser black fruits, and a hodgepodge of baking spices on the palate.
- Roasted leg of lamb
- Boeuf bourguignon (Click here for inspiration)
- Coq au vin (most braised dishes will be perfect)
- Break out the Crock-Pot – any thick stew dish will be a perfect pairing
Click on the links below to see Pinot Noir from top California producers.
*These producers make a range of Pinot Noir from various vineyard sites. Don’t be afraid to explore their lineup and compare the nuances of each bottle. If you’re looking for a lighter Pinot Noir, consider our list of the most reliable Oregon Pinot Noir producers.