Pour it On! Hearty Fall Dishes
When autumn hits, chefs move away from fresh, bright summer ingredients and head toward heartier fare as diners bundle up for colder weather. Here, we tap two beverage experts—Andrew Volk, owner of Little Giant and Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine, and Michael Corcoran, sommelier at Peppervine in Charlotte, N.C.—to offer pairing tips for some decadently rich fall dishes.
Sommelier at Peppervine
Owner of Little Giant & Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
Short rib pot pie with rosemary, thyme and pearl onions in a buttery crust
Corcoran: I’m thinking I wanted something peppery with those herbs, like syrah from Rim Rock Vineyard California. It’s explosive with dark fruit, olive tapenade, bacon fat, pepper and smoke. This would be great with the pastry, which would become more peppery and smokier.
Volk: To me, that screams hard, wild cider. The guys at Shacksbury in Vermont are doing great things. The herbs and butter will give richness that the cider will cut through. You can use anything dry and not too funky.
Roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots and baby red potatoes with dried herbs
Corcoran: Meursault is big shouldered and round. The savoriness can stand up to the Brussels sprouts and nuttiness that borders on tropical fruit.
Volk: Classic gamay noir, [with] maybe a little chill on it. It has more bramble, depth and dryness than a pinot, and this is a perfect pairing. The chicken isn’t too fatty and doesn’t need a big red wine. The dried herbs go well with the mellow fruit of the gamay noir.
Panko-topped mac and cheese made with parmesan, fontina, white cheddar and gruyere
Corcoran: Grower Champagne. The bubbles cut through the richness, but has some fruit. You’ll get rich, ripe orchard fruit, but get the bready, biscuit cheesy notes with bubbles and acid to refresh the palate.
Volk: This is [perfect with] a hazy New England IPA with body, but it is still fresh and luscious. Fruit and acid will cut through and the grapefruit notes match with the mac and cheese.
Hearty New England clam chowder
Corcoran: I’d want to contrast this with sharp, dry acidity and some effervescence, like a Vinho Verde. Maybe an albariño. That would contrast nicely with the sweetness of the clam meat and cut through the creamy onion.
Volk: Our Out of Sight cocktail at Little Giant has Singani 63 brandy, ginger syrup, lime, a splash of Campari and soda. It’s a bit zippy and floral, which balances out the richness of the chowder and adds a saline component and a refreshing balance.
Pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream
Corcoran: There’s no other acceptable answer for this than coffee. Add some cream and sugar if you want, but coffee is just what goes with pumpkin pie and you’re wrong if you say otherwise.
Volk: Madeira. It has a nutty quality that balances with the spices of pumpkin pie. It has a little heat and makes you want to take another sip, but cuts through any of the richness of any good pumpkin pie.