Summer is gradually giving way to autumn, the vibrant and intense colors in nature are giving way to warm and cozy shades. Changes in nature also cause changes in the culinary field. Autumn is a top season for many food lovers, the summer lightness on the plate evolves into heart-warming and slightly more rustic dishes with an abundance of flavors. Autumn brings with it a wealth of refined products, characterized by their rich flavors, sometimes somewhat earthy in character. The richness of this season's products inspires me immensely to make different food & wine combinations. I went over a number of typical ingredients and gave free rein to add some recipes and wines. All recipes and food & wine combinations can be found at the end of the blog.
We now know the pumpkin in many shapes and sizes, but especially as the autumn icon par excellence. In addition to a hearty pumpkin soup, this soft-sweet vegetable offers many creative possibilities on the plate. In the fall, I often make a pumpkin version of the well-known hummus as an aperitif. Another star that also does beautifully with pumpkin is the red gurnard, a small and delicate fish that is at its best from October during the autumn and winter months. See my recipe with fried red gurnard with pumpkin risotto below.
My wine selection with the specified pumpkin dishes:
- Le Petit Saint Jacques d'Albas Blanc I Languedoc I France
- Marc Tempé pinot blanc Amzelle I Alsace I France
- Aurore Dezat Sancerre Rouge I Loire I France
- Stift Göttweig Furth grüner veltliner I Kremstal I Austria
Which food lover doesn't go wild during the game season...
Yes, autumn is also the ideal time to enjoy the finest game preparations. Contemporary or not, game preparation should be prepared classically and this usually requires some patience and precision. Because the recipes of these classics are known to many and are widely available, I will mention a few and focus on the wine in the glass.
My wine selection for the given game dishes:
- Korta Katarina plavac mali I Orebic I Croatia
- Raymond Usseglio la Genesse I Rhône I France
- Domaine Pavelot Pernand-Vergelesses I Burgundy I France
- Closerie Saint-Roc I Bordeaux I France
Fall is also the season for an abundance of wild mushrooms. They add a typical, warming and earthy flavor to dishes such as risottos, stews, pastas or as a garnish, briefly fried in golden brown butter. The highlights are porcini mushrooms (cèpes), chanterelles, shiitake, oyster mushrooms and the crown jewel the white and black truffle. Due to its earthy taste, a mushroom accompanies the typical autumn and winter ingredients very well and also requires some adjustments in the wine glass.
Depending on the main ingredient, you have to adjust the intensity and concentration of the wines. In addition, you can say that dishes with mushrooms are often more subtle. The power of a mushroom usually lies more in its aromatic aspect than its mouthfeel. This means that in combination with such a dish we have to focus more on the subtlety of the aromas and less on the structure of the wine. Wines with very high tannins often fall by the wayside, unless they are very old. The top grape par excellence for this is Pinot Noir, grapes such as Grenache, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Carignan and Poulsard can also make top combinations.
My top 3 'mushroom wines'
- Jean Bourdy Côtes de Jura Rouge I Jura I France
- Marc Josten Monchberg pinot noir I Ahr I Germany
- Terres de Velle Volnay Ez Blanches I Burgundy I France
Apples & pears…
Autumn is ultimately also the great harvest season for fruit, in addition to the grape harvest that most winemakers have harvested, fruits such as apples, pears and nuts are now also at their best. I couldn't help but end on a sweet note and share with you my recipe for Tarte Tatin of pear with ginger and nuts.
My wine selection for these types of desserts:
- Broadbent 10 years Malmsey I Madeira I Portugal
- Assailly Ratafia Solera I Champagne I France
- Château Montdoyen 'Femme je vous aime' I Bergerac I France
& THEIR WINES
Since we usually serve the hummus with an aperitif, I opt for a glass with a little more freshness. Nevertheless, we do need some roundness and volume to combine with the sweetness of the pumpkin and the spiciness of the spices. I deliberately did not choose sparkling wine as an aperitif, because for many this would be an already made and perhaps too classic choice.
This very accessible and aromatic white wine from Languedoc is made from rolle (= vermentino) and viognier. A combination that ensures that this glass is very expressive, floral and fruity in the nose and yet shows its roundness and warmth in the mouth. The soft acidity and light-footedness ensure that this wine also works well as an aperitif in the autumn period.
Beautiful Pinot Blanc from one of the grandmasters in the Alsace region. This Pinot Blanc shows what this grape should be: a floral and slightly expressive nose and a round, soft mouthfeel. Immediately refreshed by the very fine acidity, this is a wine with many gastronomic possibilities. The long aftertaste testifies to the wonderful quality. Alsace wines are no longer so 'trending' these days, I often have the feeling. Nevertheless, I would like to advise everyone to revisit this region in the glass. This region has so much potential and finesse, often for an accessible price-quality when we compare it with other major wine regions in France and the world.
- 1 can of chickpeas (+/- 300 grams)
- 300 grams of roasted pumpkin in pieces or 300 grams of (grilled) pumpkin puree
- For roasted pumpkin: preheat the oven or Airfryer to 150°C; Place the (clean) pumpkin whole in the oven for +/- 1 to 2 hours (depending on the size of the pumpkin); check doneness with a knife and remove from the oven when the pumpkin is done. Cut open the pumpkin and spoon out the cooked pumpkin pulp.
- For grilled pumpkin puree: cut the pumpkin into fairly large pieces; grill the pumpkin pieces on the BBQ or in a grill pan; When done, puree the pumpkin with a masher or in a blender.
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- Curry powder
- Cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste) I optional
- 2 dl whole milk or coconut milk for a completely vegetarian version
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Pepper and salt
- Rinse the chickpeas under the tap, drain and put in the blender.
- Add the pieces of roasted pumps or pureed pumps, together with garlic, lemon juice, a tablespoon of curry powder (according to taste), a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Let the blender mix everything until smooth.
- Add the milk and tahini and stir until smooth.
- Place the hummus in a bowl and finish with some roasted pumpkin seeds before serving.
- Serve with the typical dip crisps, toast, etc.
Fried red gurnard with pumpkin risotto
With this rich dish I opt for some strength, intensity and roundness. To combine with the typical earthy-sweet character of the pumpkin, very pure and pure wines are most suitable. I chose a white and a red wine, which works very well with this fish preparation with pumpkin by choosing a red wine with lower tannins.
This world-famous commune for white wines also produces fine red wines from Pinot Noir. Thanks to the warming climate, Pinot Noir has been producing very interesting red wines in recent years with a beautiful fruit expression, soft tannin and roundness. Serve this red wine at 14°C with the red gurnard, it can even be decanted in its youth to show its fruit even more.
- If you want that step up in level, definitely try the ' Cuvée Evidence ' from Aurore Dezat, this is her top cuvée in pinot noir from Sancerre.
The national grape of Austria, grown in the municipality of Furth on the Danube. This Cuvée shows a beautiful combination between freshness and character of this typical grape. The fresh acidity contrasts very elegantly with the rich and somewhat heavier side of this dish, but everything is played back very nicely and you get a lot of counterweight in the mouth and aromatically. A top combination where the dish and the wine reinforce each other in both directions.
- Red gurnard in fillet (+/- 2 fillets per person as a main course)
- Olive oil
- 300 grams of risotto rice
- 1 butternut squash
- White wine
- Vegetable stock (fresh or a cube dissolved in boiling water)
- Parmesan cheese
- 1 onion
- 1 lemon
- Start by peeling the butternut squash and cutting it into cubes of +/- 2 cm. Place the pumpkin cubes in a bowl together with a pressed clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme, sprinkle (richly) with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything well.
- Preheat the oven or Airfryer to 200°C.
Cook the pumpkin cubes on a baking tray or in the basket of the air fryer for about 20 minutes (until overcooked and slightly brown). While cooking, you can shake the baking tray or basket halfway through.
- Puree half of the pumpkin pieces in the blender. To blend easily, add a little vegetable stock or water. Set the other half aside to finish the dish (keep it warm in the oven).
- Fry a chopped onion with a clove of garlic in olive oil, add the risotto rice and stew the rice for about 3 minutes until it is translucent, deglaze with a little white wine +/- 10 cl.
- Using a ladle, add the vegetable stock to the rice, spoon by spoon, until all the stock has been absorbed and until the rice is done. If you don't have enough stock and the rice is not yet cooked, continue with some water. The rice needs about 25 minutes to cook, taste occasionally in between. The intention is that you still taste a soft grain in the risotto, so definitely not cook it completely flat. The cooking time always depends on the type of rice and the evaporation of the stock, so do not set your heat too high.
- Add the pumpkin puree to the risotto, together with a nice knob of cold butter (real butter). Grate the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Place a large non-stick pan on the stove with olive oil and butter, heat the pan well. Season the red gurnard with salt and pepper.
- Fry the fillets of red gurnard, first on the skin side, then the other side. These fillets cook very quickly, about 2 minutes per side on a strong fire is usually sufficient. Squeeze a lemon over the fried fish.
- Take a deep plate, spoon a nice portion of risotto onto the plate, place the red gurnard on top and finish with the fried pumpkin cubes.
and similar powerful preparations with furred game such as wild boar and deer
This powerhouse of a classic also requires 'power' and 'body' in the glass. Nevertheless, I also like to look for finesse and counterbalance to make the whole appear refined and soft when we make and taste the combination.
Plavac mali is the mother grape of the world-famous zinfandel and primitivo, so the typicalities of the grape can be found when you compare the grapes with each other. This plavac mali comes from the small island of Orebic, where the Korta Katarina domain only sells the wines when they are ready to drink. This evolution ensures a very nice fusion of flavors towards this powerful piece of fur game with its intense sauces. Serve from a carafe in a tulip-shaped wine glass at 16°C.
La Genesse is one of the more stubborn wines from the Usseglio domain in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This Cuvée is made from 100% Grenache, grown within the AOP Châteauneuf-du-Pape, yet this is not stated on the label and it simply says 'Vin de France'. In terms of winemaking, this grape juice underwent much less intense extraction methods, as well as vinification entirely on concrete. This ensures that the typical power, concentration and warmth of Châteauneuf-du-Pape appear much finer, fresher and more measured in the whole.
For various reasons such as mandatory wood aging, blending of different grapes, etc., this wine may not bear the name Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If you ask me, this wine is one of my absolute favorites from the domain, because of its progressive finesse and elegance in addition to the powerful aromas and very long aftertaste. Serve from a wide carafe at 16°C and enjoy!
Pheasant 'Fine Champagne'
and similar subtle preparations with poultry game such as partridge
Of the various domains in Burgundy that we import, 'Pavelot' is one of the most rustic-authentic. Luc & Lise are at the helm of the very old domain and continue a centuries-old family tradition of fine wine making in the municipality of Pernand-Vergelesses, close to the prestigious hill of Corton. This Pinot Noir shows fine Burgundy in all subtlety. Due to the combination of lime and clay in the soil, this Pinot Noir is much more discreet in its strength and can therefore support the finest dishes. The typical earthy aromas of pinot noir that have aged somewhat in this wine are an absolute added value for this type of dish. Serve at 16°C, decanting is possible in its youth but is not a must. Definitely don't decanter when you're older. Do you want to take the glass with the dish to a higher level? Then definitely try the Premier Cru 'Ile des Vergelesses', an absolute winner in Burgundy, which, 'in Burgundy terms', is still affordable for this quality...
Perhaps some people will frown when they see my choice for this fine poultry dish. Today, Bordeaux is known for its sturdy red wines, with long wood aging, high intensity and firm tannin structure. Pretty much everything we're not looking for in combination with a fine dish like pheasant. To understand this wine we have to go back in time, the style of Bordeaux wines as we know them today was not always the norm. At the time, Bordeaux was a region where white wines were much more important and red wines were much more elegant, finer and fresher. Partly thanks to the cooler climate, but also due to the influence of the cool Atlantic Ocean. Closerie Saint Roc is made by the Amoureau family, which has been a winemaking family in and around Bordeaux since 1610. This Cuvée is grown in Puisseguin, between Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, with mainly merlot and cabernet franc. Everything in the entire winemaking process is done as naturally and purely as possible, after vinification there is maturation in large, old wooden foeders. The result is a particularly fine and elegant red wine, with a bomb of juiciness, lively acidity, complex aromas from dark fruit to fresh herbs, spices and a light chocolate hint. A beautiful domain with great wines, great in its subtlety, without frills.
Serve at 16°C from a carafe.
Tarte Tatin of pear with ginger and grilled walnuts
For me, the top combination par excellence with rich, sweet and complex desserts is and remains Madeira. Malmsey is the sweetest of the Madeira family, but remains very refined and elegant thanks to its high acidity. Due to the long maturation with influence on temperature, this drink is characterized by oxidative and nutty aromas that form a beautiful synergy with this dessert.
A quick overview about Ratafia... Ratafia is not a real wine but more of a liqueur wine, it is a drink that has not even undergone alcoholic fermentation and is therefore often very sweet and... flat in taste.
Ratafia is made by adding alcohol (Brandy/Marc) to the fresh grape juice of Champagne, resulting in a percentage of 16 to 20% alcohol. This liqueur wine then undergoes a short maturation in the cellar in wooden barrels.
This Ratafia from the Assailly brothers in Avize is slightly different in its maturation process… we delete the 'cellar' and delete 'short'. This Ratafia is matured in various old barrels in the courtyard (= outside) of the domain. One day in full rain, the next day in full sun. This long exposure to the elements accelerates the ripening process and starts a kind of oxidation. This creates a liqueur wine with a much higher complexity and a deeper integration of the acids and sugars. Gorgeous with this autumn dessert.
- 1 kg Conference pears (or another pear variety with firm flesh)
- 1 lemon
- 1 small piece of ginger (+/- 25 grams)
- 100 grams of butter
- 75 grams of pale Cassonade sugar
- 30 grams of roasted walnuts
- Fireproof round dish/cake pan +/- 25 cm diameter (must be allowed on the stove and in the oven)
- 5 cl Ginger syrup
- 1 star anise (optional for enthusiasts)
- 1 roll of puff pastry
- Peel the pears and cut them into quarters, remove the core.
- Peel the ginger and grate with a fine grater
- Melt the butter in the saucer over a low heat, add the cassonade sugar and ginger syrup. Once the sugar has melted in the butter, add the grated ginger. Let this simmer/caramelize over a low heat for about 10 minutes (not darker than light brown, if it goes too fast, add some fresh butter!)
- Deglaze the caramel with the juice of 1 lemon and roll the pears in the caramel so that all sides have some caramel around them and finally place them with the rounded side facing down. Turn the heat up a little for about 2 minutes so that the excess moisture can evaporate. Place the star anise at the bottom center of the pan between the pears.
- Cover the dish with the sheet of puff pastry, press firmly against the edges and prick a number of holes with a fork. Brush with egg yolk and bake for 20 minutes at 220°C.
- After baking, turn the pan/dish upside down with a plate or bowl, finish with the roasted walnuts and serve lukewarm. If desired, with some vanilla ice cream.