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Favorite Wines for Fall


Sure, there’s nothing like a glass of rosé in August. But as we say goodbye to the warmer weather and hello to the coziness of fall, it’s time to pour something new, too. “When I think of fall, I immediately think of mushrooms, root vegetables, figs, rich pastas, stew, hearty soups and braises. You can still fire up the grill on certain days, but I also think the large pot on the stove cooking all day works just as well,” explains Stephen Lewandowski, partner and executive chef at Townhouse in Greenwich, CT.

He says that in the fall, he’ll generally start a meal with a white wine and then move to red. “I like to choose wine that complements the food but also compliments my surroundings. A hot summer day with sun calls for light, crisp wine. On chilly fall days with some sun, I prefer a wine that has some weight to it like a pinot noir from Oregon.” Here he shares six wines he loves for fall—plus some tips on what food pairs best.


“This is an Italian red wine made from the Barbera grape. I find this to be a great fall wine because it is very versatile. It has great acidity with soft tannins and a silky finish. It goes well with slightly acidic dishes like a garganelli pasta with a rich Bolognese sauce. It also pairs well with grilled meats and sausages.”


“This is an Oregon pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. Oregon produces amazing pinot noirs that can rival some of the best burgundy producers out there. What’s great about this wine is that it is a collaboration between Larry Stone (American wine maker and sommelier), Dominique Lafon (one of the best Burgundy wine makers ever) and Thomas Savre (head wine maker and protégé of Dominique’s). Larry is the founder and CEO, and he has assembled a team producing the best Burgundy- style wine in the U.S. This pinot noir is very well balanced with forward acidity but finishes with some tannin. It has an earthy nose so it pairs extremely well with mush- rooms and root vegetables. This is such a great wine to have in the late summer on cool nights or on that first cold day where you want to make your first batch of chicken coq au vin.”


“This wine is from a small region in Spain called Bierzo (meaning “north-west”); the grape is Mencia. The winery is owned by the Palacios family. Álvero Palacios is among the very best winemakers in the Piorat region of Italy and his knowledge shows through this wine. This wine has an amazing fruit quality, but finishes with medium tannins. I call it a great crossover wine because it will work well with lighter dishes like a grilled fish or can hold up to the more bold dishes like braised lamb shoulder or a confit of duck leg.”


“As mentioned earlier, I am a big fan of Dominique Lafon. Some of his grand cru and premier cru Burgundies can run in the thousands of dollars. He also makes wine from the lesser known villages of Burgundy in the south. One of my favorites is Viré-Clessé. This is a white Burgundy (chardonnay grape) in the appellation of Viré-Clessé located in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy. The wine is called Domaine Des Heritiers Du Comte Lafon Vire Clesse. This wine drinks like a premier cru but at a fraction of the price (around $28 per bottle). This works so well with fish dishes that have a richer sauce prepared with it, and soups like a bisque or braised veal.”


“This wine region is in the southern Rhone region of France. The grapes are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre for the red and for the white they are Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. These wines are great for the fall because they are weightier and are full body. They carry a lot of flavor and are big. The white wine can easily pair with grilled meats as the acidity cuts through the rich fattiness of the protein. The red wine has power with a good amount of earth smell so it works well with mushrooms, root vegetables and truffles.”

Wine Pairing Tips

Not sure which wine goes best with which dish? Lewandowski offers this must-know advice:

For shellfish, like lobster shrimp and crab, consider the preparation:“I almost always use chardonnay. How the seafood is being prepared will let me know if it will be American or French chardonnay. American chardonnay is New World so it tends to have more oak and alcohol, so the dish should be a little heavier with fat involved. If the dish is lighter with some acidity or light fruits, I will lean towards a French chardonnay because it gets little oak and this tends to make
it lighter.”
For slightly heavier dishes, like pasta, mushrooms, cold-meat appetizers or richer-flavored fish: “I will go for a light red, like pinot noir, Beaujolais, merlot or Barbera grape. These wines I call crossover wines: They work with fish or meat depending on the preparation of the dish.”
For heartier dishes, like braised short ribs or pork belly gumbo: “Heavy food needs more powerful wine. So when the food is big, think of a big grape like cabernet, Syrah, Tempranillo, Granache, Zinfandel etc.—the big wine will hold up to the big flavors you are preparing.”

Red Wine + Blue Cheese Zinfandel + BBQ
Barolo + Truffles, Mushrooms, Bolognese sauce
Chablis + Oysters

Stephan Lewanski
Stephen Lewandowski, Partner & executive chef at Townhouse in Greenwich, CT

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