Why Pinot Noir Pairs Perfectly with Fall

As cooler temperatures descend I begin to crave one grape – Pinot Noir. The reason behind my singular focus traces to fall cuisine. The right marriage of food and wine elevates a meal and the overall experience. Therefore, in fall, all food roads lead to Pinot Noir.

What are some of your favorite fall foods? I embrace the cooling temperatures and falling leaves with lamb chops topped with a fig reduction, pork chops topped with a cranberry or Dijon sauce, and Spatchcock chicken with rosemary. But the sides in fall are the real stars, Brussels sprouts with maple bacon glaze, roasted root vegetable, butternut squash risotto, and honey roasted sweet potatoes with cranberries. Add in rustic Tuscan white bean soup, baked potato soup, and beef stew, fall is my favorite time of year to cook and eat.

Pinot Noir comes to mind with all of these dishes. Classic Pinot Noir notes include fresh red or black berries, baking spice such as cloves, cinnamon, and allspice, mushroom, black or white tea, forest floor; at times soft violets, gamey, or hints of cherry cola qualities are present as well. Typically a medium bodied wine, with medium tannins that feel smooth on the palate and well-integrated acidity. Pinot Noir should lift off the palate with a bit of liveliness, rather than weigh heavy like a darker black grape.

What fall flavors pair well with Pinot Noir? Figs, pomegranate, cranberry, blackberry, dried herbs, pumpkin pie spices, mushrooms, ancient grains, roasted vegetables, sweet and savory vegetables, roasted meats, grilled meats, smoked meats, light to medium sauces, many soups. With Pinot Noir and fall cuisine, you are only limited by your imagination.

Here is a list of some Pinot Noirs to enjoy this fall (including a couple for you Cab lovers):

Disclaimer: media samples; all thoughts & opinions my own.

2014 Windrun Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir Santa Barbara USA ($33): Classic notes of dark black berry and cherry, baking spice, mushroom, forest floor; light and elegant, silky mouth-feel, easy to pair and enjoy

2015 Windrun Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir Santa Barbara USA ($33): Bolder than the 14; dark wild berries, baking spice, dusty earth, forest floor, black tea; rich and round on the palate, luscious mouth-feel, long finish

2017 Matetic Vineyards Corralillo Pinot Noir San Antonio Valley Chile ($27.99): Certified organic; notes of cherry, cranberry, blueberry, baking spice, dried herbs, and trailing violets; light and elegant, soft on the palate, juicy, quaffable

2016 Frank Family Carneros Pinot Noir Napa Valley USA ($38): Fresh aromas of cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, baking spice, dried violets, and tea; elegant, silky mouth-feel, well-integrated tannins, long finish

2015 Portlandia Momtazi Pinot Noir Willamette Valley USA ($30): Biodynamic vineyard; Earthy aromas of black berries, baking spice, worn leather, dusty cocoa; dried tobacco, black tea, forest floor, ground espresso, and trailing licorice; bold flavors are persistent yet demonstrate restraint on the palate; elegant, plush, dazzling

2016 Wairau River Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand ($24.99): Fruit driven aromas of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry mingle with baking spice and hints of cherry cola; medium-bodied, simple yet quite pleasing, balanced with nice structure

2014 Perfusion Vineyard San Francisco Bay Pinot Noir California USA ($40): Small production winery in Wildcat Canyon; inviting aromas of dark berries; dried violets, baking spice, white tea, and leather; earth-driven palate that is refined and elegant, balanced and structured through a long finish

2016 Perfusion Vineyard San Francisco Bay Pinot Noir California USA ($36): Lead by red fruit notes of cherry, cranberry, raspberry, with baking spice, violets, toasted cedar, trailing vanilla; not as bold as the 16; elegant, refined, nice lift on palate

2016 Talbott Logan Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands USA ($28): Layered aromas of red fruit, baking spice, dried violets, dried savory herbs, baking spice, mushrooms, and a hint of gaminess; elegantly refined palate, medium-bodied, tension between fruit and earthiness

2016 Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Pinot Noir California USA ($17): Fruit forward aromas of cherry, raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, dried violets, baking spice, trailing vanilla; approachable with a pleasing mouth-feel, not complex but highly enjoyable

2014 Calla Lily Ultimate Red Carneros Pinot Noir Napa Valley USA ($39): This is a Cab lovers Pinot Noir, jammy aromas of black fruit mingle with baking spice, black tea, cherry cola, forest floor, and licorice; this conversion Pinot Noir is big, bold, and rich; grippy tannins driven by oak coat the palate, high acidity balances out the wine, if you are looking for a bigger Pinot Noir this one is for you

2016 Imagery Pinot Noir California USA ($20): I am not a fan of blending Pinot Noir, but this wine contains a touch of Petit Verdot, adding a depth of boldness for another Cab lovers Pinot; stewed and jammed berries mingle with baking spice, black tea, dark cocoa, and trailing vanilla; concentrated on the palate, ripe tannins, bold texture, long mouth-coating finish

Most of these wines are well distributed in the US, available at large box stores and smaller wine retailers. If one tickles your fancy and you cannot locate it check Wine-Searcher or Goggle. All are available direct from the winery. Buying wine online is great! Enjoy your fall food and wine pairings with Pinot Noir. Tag me on social media to share your pairings.

3 comments

  1. Pinot Noir is my go to wine for Thanksgiving, the meal at the heart of the fall experience. I am not familiar with any of the wines listed here, although I have tried other wines from Frank Family and Calla Lily. So thank you for these other options to consider.

  2. I enjoy pinot noir, but I feel like it doesn’t get enough love. Glad to see it highlighted. A lot of your choices were CA. Do you have a preference to CA over other regions like OR, New Zealand, etc?

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