Football 🏈 Thanksgiving 🦃 Halloween 🎃
Pizza! Turkey! Candy!
We love this time of year – great sleeping weather, splendid foliage and autumnal activities that never get old. Here’s a look at our some of our October traditions and favourite fall foods, as well as the wine styles to accompany them.
Whether on your couch or at a tailgate, few activities say fall more than football. And while most think beer here, we believe that wine has a place too. Here are a few football food staples along with some delicious wines to have on hand for kickoff.
- Pizza continues to maintain its long-held status as the ultimate football food. Make your own or order in – enjoying a pie while watching football is one of life’s great pairings. Good pizza wine is mid-weight and fruity, with soft tannins and moderate alcohol. Italy is the go-to for many, and we’re no different. A young Sangiovese from Tuscany is a great option. Its mild tannins, bright red fruits and zippy acids nicely counteract tomato sauce and rich cheese. Other options include Montepulciano from Abruzzo, Barbera from Piemonte or Ripasso from Veneto. For those who enjoy white pizzas, try Northern Italian whites like Pinot Bianco, Gavi or even Prosecco.
- Chicken wings, another football classic, can be a challenge to pair properly. It’s all about the sauce here, so we’ll focus on traditional hot wings, which need acidity and sweetness to cut through all that heat and spice. Look for wines with high natural acidity and some residual sugar, like German Riesling or Sec-Tendre Vouvray from France. If it has to be red, make sure it’s fruit-forward with little or no oak and mild tannins. Try a Chilean Carmenere or a young (Joven) Spanish Tempranillo.
- For those football fans who elevate their game day experience by smoking and grilling meat, there are plenty of worthy wine options to pair with traditional BBQ. Try to avoid overly tannic, super dry wines and opt instead for juicy, fruit-forward reds like Zinfandel, New World Merlot and Syrah or Spanish Garnacha. If you prefer white, you’ll need something full and textured like New World Chardonnay or Rhône blends. Dry Rosé is also a great option here, offering up bright red fruits and enough structure to hold up against the rich, intense saucy fare.
Giving thanks each fall is a North American tradition and provides a wonderful opportunity to ‘break bread’ with family and friends. As the Thanksgiving dining table can take many forms these days, there are several wine styles to consider.
- More often than not, the traditional festive meal revolves around a rich, deeply-flavourful roast turkey. Alongside classic sides like dressing with Autumn spices, earthy root vegetables and cranberries, look for light reds with bright red fruits, mild tannins and underlying savouriness such as Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Blaufrankisch. Old World Sauvignon Blanc, with its notes of fresh herbs and green fruits is a classic white pairing here. White Burgundy or lightly oaked New World Chardonnay is another option.
- Some of us opt for ham over turkey. While the fixins’ will be the same, classic baked, glazed ham, with its sweet and salty character, requires a different bottle. The ideal partner has just a little bit of sweetness and plenty of natural acidity. Riesling, with its fruity flavours, off-dry profile and zippy acids, is the obvious choice. Red wine options include New World Syrah or southern Rhône GSM blend.
- No meat? No problem. Fall in Ontario provides a bounty of earthy, hearty, flavourful grains and vegetables. Squash, mushrooms and root vegetables find their way into a variety of dishes, both main and side. Look for reds that offer up both fruit and savoury elements: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and young, un-oaked Nebbiolo. For whites, try a Grüner Veltliner from Austria or a Vinho Verde from Portugal. These all possess varying levels of green, herbaceous flavours that marry well with similarly savoury foods.
Trick or Treat!
Whether you’re raiding your kid’s Halloween haul, or enjoying the candy bar at a costume party, sweet and salty snacks are a big deal this time of year. And believe it or not, wine can play a tasty, fun supporting role.
- Break open up a mini-bag (or 5!) of tasty potato chips while answering the door on Halloween night. Crispy, salty, fatty goodness. The go-to here is bubbles, and there are plenty of options to consider: Spanish Cava, French Cremant or Italian Prosecco will work just fine. Or, if the mood strikes, grab some reasonably priced Champagne and luxuriously enjoy the back and forth between salt, sugar, acid and bubbles. White cheddar popcorn? Try a judiciously oaked Chardonnay.
- When it comes to pairing wine with chocolate, the darker the better. Pairing wine with typical Halloween chocolate bars – from Coffee Crisp to Milky Way, Snickers to Kit-Kat – can be a tricky, but tasty proposition. The general rule to follow here is that the wine should be sweeter than the candy bar. Try a sparkling red like Italian Lambrusco, a sweet, fortified wine like Ruby Port or Rutherglen Muscat or a Vins Doux Naturel from the South of France.
- Sweet candy, sour candy, liquorice and gummies are all a part of the Halloween experience. Elevate that experience by adding a glass of off-dry Prosecco or Italian Moscato. The candied fruit notes in those wines will work well with the sugary sweets. You could also try a sweeter still wine, notably an Auslese-style German Riesling that has plenty of ripe fruits, acidity and residual sugar.
Keep in mind that wine and food pairing, especially with casual fare, is not an exact science. Above all else, drink and eat what you like, experiment and have fun!