Autumn is a season full of spectacular colours of yellows, oranges and reds in our gardens and countryside though the days are shorter with cool temperatures, wet rainy days interspersed with breathtakingly fresh sunny days with blue skies. The seasonal climate is also reflected in our eating habits and thus wine choices. Warming soups, casseroles, roast vegetables, notably root vegetables take the place of salads and barbecues.
In turn, these foods need fuller flavoured warming wines to accompany them. Soups come into their own on cooler days and there are some ideal pairings. Try some of the chunky vegetable soups with a fruity Cotes du Rhone such as the great value Reserve de l’Abbe from the South of France or an Italian wine from the Primitivo grape such as Visconti della Rocca whose savoury fruity notes will complement the vegetable blends. Or if it’s a creamy vegetable or chicken soup try Alsace Pinot Blanc from the cave Coop at Turckheim or a more unusual pairing with a South African Roussanne that has a full soft fruity mouthfeel from a producer like Rustenberg.
A lovely combination is soup and sherry – a dry Oloroso adds flavour to the soup & is delicious to drink with it as the dry nuttiness matches the meaty savoury soup. Try Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso Seco or Palo Cortado dry Amontillado. Sherries will also complement fish soups or a spicy tomato soup.
Wines made from the aromatic Viognier grape are worth looking out for whether unoaked like those from Mont Rocher in the Oc region of Languedoc Roussillon or the fuller lightly spicy new world wines from this grape such as those made by Yalumba in the Barossa Valley where the warm sun means very ripe grapes with lovely ripe peachy, tropical fruit flavours and a light peppery finish.
Don’t forget Chardonnay: try one of the many unoaked versions from Australia and Chile that are full of stylish crisp light ripe fruit or lightly oak aged Chardonnays, such as those from the South of France where the light creamy vanilla notes add a little more flavour are a great match to creamy vegetable soups and warming fish casseroles etc.
Casseroles, like soups are a combination of robust full flavours and demand wines with similar characteristics to match them. Spicy flavoursome casseroles, whether meaty or vegetarian need gutsy wines to accompany them so look out for some of the Southern Hemisphere reds such as Domaine des Tourelles Lebanese Cinsaults and Carignans South African Pinotage from Painted Wolf Wines, and great value vibrant Chilean Carmenere such as that Odfjell (they’re also organic and vegan).
On the other hand, pasta sauces with garlic and tomatoes or a chilli con carne go best with Italian reds whose full fruity notes of cherries plus some balancing acidity are ideal – check out a Puglian Primitivo from Visconti della Rocca or the little known Col di Sasso Tuscan red made from the Chianti grape – Sangiovese blended with Cabernet or a refreshing Sicilian white Grillo with a lovely mouthfilling texture.
There’s lots of flavours out there, have a go at matching your favourite autumnal soup or casserole recipe with some new wine flavours.