Autumnal wines: their qualities and how to choose them

How best to pamper yourself to face the end of summer

Autumnal wines: their qualities and how to choose them

Date of publication: 21/09/2022

With the arrival of October and the approach of the autumnal equinox, the weather begins to alternate between sunny days and the first cold spells. Summer is coming to an end and one can feel a certain melancholy as one returns to the daily routine. How, then, do you face up to autumn in the right way?  This season deserves to be welcomed and appreciated by strolling in parks and in the woods, perhaps hunting for chestnuts, without forgetting seasonal delicacies such as truffles, mushrooms, figs, pumpkins, leeks and pomegranates! 

But that's not all. In September and October, the grapes reach their ideal ripeness and in the vineyards, it is harvest time. So, why not drink a toast to autumn by accompanying your seasonal recipes with some excellent wine?

How to choose the perfect wines for autumn based on their characteristics

Autumn is the grape season! Although we often tend to associate specific types of wine with the different seasons - linking, for example, cool, white wines to summer and delegating warm, full-bodied reds to the colder seasons - in reality, there are plenty of sparkling, red, white and rosé wines that are well suited to enhancing autumnal dishes. 

How does one find one's way through so much choice?  The secret is to know the specific characteristics of the wines and the tricks that help in identifying the best pairings, aimed at appreciating seasonal flavours and aromas. For example, keep in mind: don't overdo the tannins and alcohol content! Ideal wines for autumn are characterised by full body and structure, good persistence and refreshing acidity. They exhibit aromas of undergrowth, earth, tobacco, sultanas and red berries, characteristics that go well with seasonal foods. 

Wines to pair with autumn produce

In autumn, the leaves on the trees begin to take on warm colours, from yellow to red to brown: nature begins to transform and tint even the fruit and vegetable markets with the same hues. It is the combination with food, by matching or contrasting, that can guide you in choosing the right bottle for every occasion. 

Among the most popular autumn products on our tables are certainly mushrooms, which in this period are at their best along with the prized truffle. These forest products are characterised by their distinctive scents, so for the right combination with wine one must assess the recipe with which one intends to serve them. For example, one must consider whether mushrooms are the main ingredient on one’s menu, or whether they are served as a side dish. 

Wine and mushrooms: the best pairings

In general, mushrooms are an aromatic and delicate food. When eaten raw they stand out for their intense and persistent flavour, which can be enhanced with an aromatic, soft and light wine to contrast with the flavour, such as the Vermentino 'Terre Siciliane' IGT: its delicacy also makes an elegant pairing with soups and creams

If, on the other hand, you intend to prepare a savoury first course, such as tagliatelle or risotto ai funghi,  wines such as the Raggiante rosé or the Chardonnay Puglia IGT Biologico, with their mellowness and developed aromas, will create a perfect balance of flavours. 

Should you wish to pair the mushrooms with red wine, remember to choose one with a full but smooth, fruity and spicy flavour, with non-intrusive tannins, such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2018  or the Dolcetto Piemonte DOC

Pairing truffles and wine: what to choose

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The prized and fragrant truffle, depending on the characteristics of the dish in which it is featured, can be accompanied by either a structured white wine or a refined red wine. 

It favours soft wines that are not too aromatic or characterised by marked acidity. If you opt for a truffle-based first course or a truffle-flavoured fried egg, white wines with ageing potential such as Oltrepò Pavese Riesling DOC or Langhe Arneis DOC are the ideal match.

If truffle is served over dishes with red meat, in contrast, a red wine with not too much structure and good aromatic complexity, such as a Chianti, a Barbera or a delicate Dolcetto, is always a winning choice. For more structured and complex dishes, rely on the great Italian reds such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Amarone della Valpolicella.

Which wine to pair with pumpkin?

The pumpkin season is finally here! Characterised by its delicacy, sweetness and versatility, this vegetable lends itself to many preparations, both sweet and savoury, and can be cooked in many ways. These characteristics might make one think that pairing pumpkin with wine is a bit of a challenge, but in reality, with the right wine, the taste of pumpkin can be enhanced and brought out in harmony. 

With pumpkin risottos the best combination is with fresh and savoury wines, to balance the sweet tendency of the dish, such as Riesling, Lugana or Chardonnay, while with more complex preparations, such as risottos creamed with cheese or grilled or fried pumpkin, Prosecco may be the right choice. 

With pumpkin soup or with light and delicate preparations, the Vermentino or the Falanghina Campania IGT, on the other hand, are the wines that, thanks to their good flavour, are best suited to accompany pumpkin. With elaborate, savoury first courses such as white pumpkin lasagna or stuffed pasta, the Raggiante Rosato or Lambrusco will surprise you!

Chestnuts and wine: a perfect marriage!

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The scent of roasted chestnuts is what most memorably accompanies autumn walks and a good glass of wine can only complete this taste experience! Traditionally, roasted chestnuts are paired with Novello wine, but a good Lambrusco di Modena DOC, sparkling and sweet, is also appreciated for cleansing the mouth of the chestnuts' mellowness. 

In general, chestnuts prefer to be paired with young and not very structured red wines, unless they are used as an ingredient in dishes and preparations, e.g. in pasta fillings or roasts: in these cases more structured and complex reds such as Aglianico or a good Dolcetto are ideal. And for a flavourful risotto with chestnuts and gorgonzola cheese? Barbera and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo will be the perfect wines to give a continuation of these flavours. 
Now that you know how to choose wines for your autumnal dishes, experiment and be inspired by Giordano's recipes and wines, to experience this season at its best and enjoy the pleasures of good cooking and good eating!

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