It’s finally fall. We can start looking forward to crisp mornings and evenings that are cool enough to break out the Dutch oven, simmer something hot and hearty to pair with fresh bread and a pretty wine. I love to pair hearty reds with robust fall soups and stews.
There are lots of tasty and affordable bold red wines, with deep colors, intriguing fruit, spice and earthy aromas, and rich texture. They pair well with meats or game, and have long been the classic partners for long-cooked braises. While styles vary according to the region where the wine was produced and the style in which it was made, these grape varieties are likely to make a wine style that can hold up to a rich dish.
Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah, merlot and malbec grapes all have the potential to make powerful wines, with the added plus that you can find lots of blends of these grapes. Full-bodied red wines generally have lots of chewy, mouth-drying tannins, and a dish such as stew with fatty proteins can moderate that effect, making a winning combination. For more pairs, consider these:
Spicy Chili: If you are simmering a classic chili with a good bit of heat from peppers, look for something a little fruity. Try a pretty merlot, a fruity zinfandel or an Australian shiraz. For a white bean chili, you could go with white wine. If it’s a spicy white chili, try a wine with a little bit of sweetness, such as a German riesling. Slightly sweet wines tame the heat and let the flavors of the dish shine through.
Slow-cooked stew: Whether beef, lamb or pork, stew is a hallmark of fall and winter, and hearty red blends are a favorite. Try syrah or cabernet blends for a supportive partner to the rich warmth of the stew.
Big braised dishes: Something complex and rich, such as osso bucco or short ribs, calls for a powerful wine. Try a hearty malbec, cabernet sauvignon or syrah.
With so many wine styles available, it’s a great idea to stop by your local wine store, describe what you are cooking and take advantage of the staff’s knowledge. Buy plenty, because anyone who smells the scents of autumn in a pot will surely want to stay for dinner.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University. Email: Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
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