The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

It’s the Great Pumpkin Pairing, Charlie Brown!

Posted on | October 29, 2014 | Written by David Gwo | No Comments

Picture of the animated Halloween classic snagged from People Magazine

Picture of the animated Halloween classic snagged from People Magazine

So you’ve finished carving out your Halloween pumpkins, and if you like to cook or bake, you’re likely going to make some delicious pumpkin-based foods. Of course the next thought that comes to mind after you’ve made your signature pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, or whatever your signature pumpkin dish may be is this: “What wine can I pair with this?”

Luckily, we’ve already done all the tasting research and it turns out that a wide variety of delicious dessert wines make the perfect compliment to pumpkin. Pumpkin is inherently sweet and most foods made with pumpkin will have varying degrees of sweetness to them. That’s why dessert wines are the clear choice. You could theoretically do white or red wines as well, but they would not only have to be very fruit driven, but also the flavors would have to mesh well with the flavor of the pumpkin. Not easy. Check out these proven selections:

2007 Castello della Sala Muffato della Sala 1.5L

(Umbria – Sauvignon Blanc, Grechetto, Traminer, Riesling)

This is an Italian interpretation of Sauternes made by the great Antinori estate Castello della Sala, located in Umbria. The estate’s Chardonnay Cervaro della Sala has been received with international praise and so it decided to follow up with an equally impressive dessert wine. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s as good as the legendary dessert wines from Sauternes (which are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc based), but in my opinion, the Antinori family did a pretty good job. “Noble Rot,” a.k.a. Botrytis, forms on the grapes used to make this wine just like Sauternes. On the nose and palate you get lots of tropical, stone, and citrus fruits (i.e. guava, apricots, nectarines), along with floral and honeyed components, and the presence of the ever famous botrytis spice. While a magnum might seem excessive, this is perfect for large get-togethers, and great to have for the upcoming holidays.

The smaller, and thus less expensive, 2008 Muffato bottling will be arriving soon—with plenty of autumn to spare!

2001 Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico

(Veneto –  Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Croatina, Sangiovese)

If you like to enjoy the finest dessert wines with your pumpkin, look no further. This is the legendary Giuseppe Quintarelli, a.k.a. “Master of the Veneto.” Quintarelli is known for his epic Amarone and his entirely unique Alzero, a wine that is made in the appassimento method but using Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Quintarelli’s wines are completely mesmerizing and entirely compelling; few wines deliver the sheer enjoyment while tasting the way his do. The Maestro himself based away a few years ago, which makes vintages that he was involved in making that much more desirable. Recioto is a dessert wine made with the same grapes used in his Amarone, except fermentation is terminated early leaving behind a degree of residual sugar, which provides the sweetness. Notes of chocolate, mocha, coffee, plums, and a multitude of other flavors constantly evolve in the glass while you sip away. If you are going to enjoy this with pumpkin, make sure it’s something captivating, otherwise this may steal the limelight.

Of course, some people like their pumpkin dishes to be savory, like pumpkin risotto or pumpkin ravioli. If you’re one of these folks, you might like to pair these dishes with one of Josko Gravner’s amber wines, like his Breg Anfora or Riolla Gialla.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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