Here comes autumn with cooler days and a cornucopia of harvest fruits and vegetables. The fresh berries and midsummer vegetables give way to root vegetables, squashes, apple and pear harvest, and earthy mushroom dishes spiced with fall herbs. Eating seasonally has become very popular here in Western North Carolina. This is nothing new; it used to be the only option before frozen, canned, or packaged foods came along. But the commercialization and big business of the agri-food industry all but ruined the joy of simple, yet healthy and delicious farm-to-table fare.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n Asheville’s “Foodtopia,” many local restaurants love to source their local ingredients to match the season. We do the same at home in our kitchens, as we retreat from the lawn or deck to cozy indoor meals. So what about the drink pairings to match this change of seasons. It’s a time when we can shift gears from light summer wines to the more robust reds and fuller-bodied whites. Here are some pairing suggestions to think about as the days grow shorter and cooler.
First, for those that enjoy white wines, consider the fuller-bodied varieties such as Viognier, Roussanne, Chardonnay, Godello, Riesling, or Gewürztraminer. A few suggested pairings follow, but feel free to substitute.
Viognier with glazed root vegetables; Roussanne with baked pork roast; pumpkin risotto and Pinot Gris; lobster rolls and buttery Chardonnay; Spanish paella and Godello; apple-crumb pie and Riesling; curried butternut squash soup and Gewürztraminer; or pears and sweet sparkling wine.
Don’t forget the Rosés! Food pairing for Rosés in the fall and also move toward a heartier style. Look for Rosés that are made from bolder grapes such as the Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from South Africa’s Mulderbosch winery, or one from Italy’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Valle Reale). These wines are excellent pairings for baked ham or roasted turkey.
Naturally, the coming of autumn calls for more red varieties, especially those that are light to medium-bodied such as Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Tempranillo, Gamay, or Barbera. Pairing suggestions include:
Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) with penne and wild mushrooms; Côtes du Rhône (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault) wines with root-veggie and meat stews; Rioja (Tempranillo) with Iberian ham and wild mushrooms drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar; Beaujolais Village (Gamay) with turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce; or Barbera d’ Asti with a hearty red sauce pasta.
[quote float=”right”]While wine production is tied to the vintage that each year’s crop produces, brewers have the advantage of brewing specifically for a season, varying the style and ingredients available.[/quote]Perhaps the most seasonal libation to pair with food on the Asheville scene is beer. After all, in Beer City the brewers craft new “seasonal” beers throughout the year. While wine production is tied to the vintage that each year’s crop produces, brewers have the advantage of brewing specifically for a season, varying the style and ingredients available. In the modern craft beer industry, there are no hard rules for what gets brewed, and brewers love to push the limits (the same goes for naming beers). Already on our shelves at the Weinhaus in Asheville are local favorites such as Highland Brewery’s “Clawhammer” (Oktoberfest style), Green Man’s “Harvester” (Amber Ale), and Catawba’s “King Don’s Pumpkin Ale” (Spiced Herb/Vegetable Ale). These and other beers are not just for chugging while watching the football game. They pair well at the dining table, and, like wine, they tend to get fuller-bodied and higher in alcohol as the weather turns cooler.
So I encourage you to embrace this wonderful time of year when the weather changes and the opportunity to enjoy seasonal foods and libations affords us the ability to mix up our dining habits and settle in for the colder months ahead.
Hunt Mallett is the owner & operator of Weinhaus, located on Patton Avenue in downtown Asheville.