The wide world of wine can be intimidating and, frankly, annoying to navigate. Factor in food pairings, and it’s often a recipe for confusion. Even more frustrating? Wine snobs who regularly sniff, swirl, and spew terminology that nobody at the table understands. Luckily, plenty of wine lovers—and experts—are highly accessible and more than willing to explain why certain varietals pair well with certain dishes.
One such expert: Alyssa Rapp, the founder of online wine community Bottlenotes, who we recruited to offer advice on the best fall wine to pair with dishes you’re definitely going to be eating this season. Read and learn!
If you’re eating: Hearty vegetarian or vegetable soups, like the above “Many Veggie” soup from Love & Lemons.
Try drinking: Loire Valley “Winter” Whites
“I love the lemon and limestone notes in Loire whites, which are perfect for pairing with many fall soups,” Rapp said.
Alyssa’s pick: Sauvion Vouvray ”Les Bosquets” 2014, $11.95
If you’re eating: Fall salads made with root vegetables, quinoa, farro, or dried fruit, like the above Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Butternut Squash, Pomegranate, and Pecans from Two Peas and Their Pod.
Try Drinking: German Rieslings
“German Rieslings are low-alcohol and high-acidity, with sweetness levels that range from bone-dry to very honeyed,” Rapp said. “They underscore the subtle sweetness of fall salads made with squash, beets, dried cherries, etc. Prices start around $14.95 and move up.”
Alyssa’s pick: Donnhoff Nahe Riesling, $21.50
If you’re eating: Hearty meat, like the above Dijon Roasted Rack of Lamb from The Crepes of Wrath.
Try drinking: Napa Valley Zinfandel
“Napa’s iconic, big, luscious reds can stand up to so many great fall and winter foods like beef stew, lamb, or brisket, to name a few.”
Alyssa’s pick: Storybook Mountain 2012 Mayacamas Range Zinfandel, $37.50
If you’re eating: Fall appetizers, like the above fig, chutney, and goat cheese toast from Eat Well 101.
Try drinking: French Champagne
“Whether carving pumpkins, kicking off Thanksgiving dinner, or even gearing up for the year-end holidays, try classic French Champagne. It is truly my favorite way to begin any meal—fall or otherwise.”
Alyssa’s pick: Pierre Gimonnet Blanc de Blancs Brut, $52.99
If you’re eating: Rich meats and sauces (like the classic Italian meatballs above from Recipe Tin Eats), coq au vin, risotto, moderately spiced Asian cuisine
Try drinking: Italian Nebbiolo
“Nebbiolo is one of the most noble grapes in the world—it’s the backbone of Italian Barolos and Barbarescos,” said Rapp. “Its perfumed nose is truly feminine and a wonderful complement to its racy acidity and depth of tar and tannin, making it a great wine for pairing with so many fall foods. Its medium-bodied nature means it won’t overpower lighter fall fare, but it can stand up to heavy, seasonal dishes.”
Alyssa’s pick: Palmina Sisquoc Vineyard Santa Ynez Nebbiolo 2006, $35