By David Gettenberg & Anne Press of Englewood Wine Merchants
September is an exciting time of year for food and wine pairings. In autumn, farmers’ markets are flooded with fresh produce. When we look around, we are reminded of our favorite fall dishes and the exciting wines we will be pairing with them. Tomatoes with Sangiovese, ratatouille with Cabernet Franc, butternut and acorn squash with a Riesling or mildly oaked Chardonnay. The list is truly endless, but here are some of the classics.
In addition to their classic red cherry flavor, Sangiovese (the ubiquitous grape of Tuscany) has an acidic character that makes it a beautiful pairing with fresh tomatoes as well as most tomato-based dishes. Its flavor profile varies depending on where the grape is grown. The most popular Sangiovese, Chianti, is typically savory with rustic, earthy elements. Sangiovese from the Montalcino region (most notably Brunello di Montalcino) tends to be a richer, more complex version of the grape. A tremendous value Sangiovese—and one of our favorites—comes from Tuscany’s coastal area of Maremma. This red, the 2015 Conti di San Bonifacio Monteregio di Massa Marittima, is a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Cabernet Franc—boasting red currant, black cherry and silky tannins. This is a red sauce go-to.
With its dominant flavors of berries, black plumb, bell pepper, green peppercorns and cedar, Cab Francs pair beautifully with a variety of vegetables. The majority of Cabernet Franc is grown in France; it is one of the blending grapes of Bordeaux and is a standalone star of the Chinon sub-region in the Loire Valley. The 2011 Chinon Les Picasses from Domaine Olga Raffault is loaded with red current, plums and red bell pepper mixed with tobacco leaf. This complex, traditionally-made Chinon drinks beautifully with roasted or grilled food as well as slow-braised meat.
Riesling has complex flavors that range from nuanced citrus to honeyed floral. It is generally low in alcohol and high in acidity. Rieslings, depending on where and how they’re made, range from dry, off-dry to sweet. Germany, Austria, France and New York’s Finger Lakes region all produce excellent Rieslings with varying degrees of sweetness (residual sugar from the grapes). We are fans of Harper Voight’s Maresh Riesling from Oregon. It is on the drier side and a perfect pairing with curried butternut squash soup or maple-glazed roasted acorn squash.
One of the most popular white grapes, Chardonnay transcends all seasons. The apple and pear flavors are often accompanied by citrus notes. When combining roasted squash with browned butter and herbs, a lightly oaked Chardonnay like Domaine Leflaive’s Mâcon-Verzé will enhance the richness of the butter and the intensity of the herb flavors.
For more on Englewood Wine Merchants, visit their website.