If you're a seasonal cook, you know what makes a perfect autumn dish. But what defines the ideal fall wine? Here, our pairings primer.

By F&W Editors
September 23, 2016
© David Malosh

Curried Squash Galette

With a super flaky crust (the secret: frozen, grated butter) and a lightly spiced sweet-savory winter squash filling, this rustic galette from Food & Wine’s Justin Chapel makes a perfect vegetarian meal; serve it with a green salad at your next dinner party and expect to receive compliments from your guests all night.

David Malosh

With a superflaky crust (the secret: frozen grated butter) and a lightly spiced sweet-savory winter squash filling, this rustic galette from Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple makes a perfect vegetarian meal; serve it with a green salad.

Suggested Pairing: Pinot Gris
The first thing to know about Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio? They’re the same grape. Italianate Grigio is light and crisp; Gris, made in an Alsatian style, is richer and spicier. Oregon winemakers tend toward a Gris style, which is spectacular with any kind of roasted squash.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Warm Farro Salad

© David Malosh

Food Wine’s Kay Chun makes a super-fall-friendly side of nutty farro with roasted carrots and mushrooms, which she flavors with lemon juice and hazelnuts.

Suggested Pairing: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known for its scent of garrigue, the wild herbs that grow on hillsides throughout France’s southern Rhône. But the core of its flavor comes from Grenache, a silky grape full of blackberry and cherry flavors. Paired with mushrooms, it’s the essence of fall.

Sausage-and-Potato Pan Roast

© David Malosh

For the perfect cold-weather weeknight dinner, Food  Wine’s Justin Chapple makes this one-pan dish, roasting sweet sausages with potatoes and shallots and tossing them with brightly flavored arugula and lemon before serving.

Suggested Pairing: Rioja
The red wines of Spain’s most famous region always create an autumnal mood with their aromas of dried cherries and dusty leather (a little wine-geeky, we know). These savory notes are more defined in reserva and gran reserva bottlings, which spend several years at the winery before release; younger crianza and joven wines tend to be fruitier but still pair perfectly with fall ingredients.

Salmon with Lentil-Beet Salad

© David Malosh

The crisp, buttery skin-on salmon fillet in this healthy dish from Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple is perfect with the tangy lentil salad, but the salad itself is so good, it could easily stand on its own. If you can’t find frisée, use escarole and chicory instead.

Suggested Pairing: Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir would do well to look for two words on the label, Sonoma County—it’s arguably America’s greatest Pinot Noir region. Thanks to the brisk ocean breezes of the far Sonoma Coast, or the morning fog that creeps over the Russian River Valley, the climate could not have been better designed for this cool-weather-loving variety. And it’s an ideal partner for rich fish like salmon.

Porchetta-Spiced Pork Shoulder

When Food Wine’s Kay Chun makes this Roman-style pork shoulder rubbed and seasoned with spices, herbs, lemon zest and garlic, she saves the pan juices to make a fantastic vinaigrette for the butter bean and spinach salad that gets served alongside.

Suggested Pairing: Nebbiolo
Piedmont’s morning mists, which veil its hilltop towns and blanket its vineyards, keep this gorgeous region fall-like year-round. Those mists also gave Nebbiolo, the grape of Barolo, its name (nebbia means fog). Firm, tannic and aromatic, the wines are spectacular with all kinds of fall flavors­—Piedmont’s white truffles, say, or the braised pork here. Decanting young vintages is generally a good idea to smooth out rough edges.