Cranberry Bean and Pumpkin Stew
Roast Acorn Squash, Pears,
and Potatoes with Bucheron Cheese
Butternut Squash Bread
with Italian Sausage and Roasted Quince
Seared Venison with Roasted
Acorn Squash and Thyme Juslee
Pumpkin Ginger Crème
Pumpkin and the various winter squash that
come into season with the changing of the leaves are great bridges:
they can be used in sweet or savory dishes, with hearty meats or
lighter cheeses. This means they can also match with a variety of
wines, which is a mixed blessing: there is no “go-to”
wine for pumpkin as there is for asparagus (Sancerre) or foie gras
(Sauternes). How the squash relates to other items on the plate
will determine what wine will bring out its own flavors. Here are
some wine suggestions from around the world to pair with pumpkin
and squash recipes from some of our featured chefs.
Bean and Pumpkin Stew
Chef Peter Hoffman of Savoy – New York, NY
The stew’s texture makes a nice contrast to the more usual
pumpkin bisque, and the cilantro and the nuttiness of the cranberry
beans add depth and interest to the dish. With a smooth bisque the
first pick would be a sparkling wine to create a textural contrast,
but the stew has enough textural interest by itself, so go for a
something that will manage the pungency of the cilantro with its
own spicy character.
A rich Pinot Gris fits the bill.
Alsace or Oregon spring to mind first, but the some parts of the
Southern Hemisphere have recently taken a shine to this grape, notably
New Zealand and Tasmania. So far the latter tends toward a richer
style. Track down the Grey Sands Pinot Gris 2000;
it’s a full-bodied wine with an aromatic, spicy nose, touched
off by subtle floral notes. The palate is denser, with notes of
quince, butter, and almond. This is a white wine that holds up to
drinking during the cooler seasons.
Chef Michael Romano of Union Square Café –
New York, NY
Squash or pumpkin with risotto is a seasonal fave with chefs across
the country, and Michael Romano hits all the points that make it
a pleasure: sweetness countered by spice, richness cut by pepper,
sage, and arugula. It’s still a rich dish, though, and needs
a high acidity wine to clean and freshen the mouth between bites.
Or bubbles. Sparkling wines are
typically high in acid already, and the bubbles reinforce that refreshing
character. To keep with the Italian roots of risotto try the Ca’
del Bosco Franciacorta Satèn 1998 from Lombardy,
in the north of Italy. A “Satèn” is bottled at
a lower pressure than most sparkling wines; it typically has a smoother
texture that is creamier and less overtly festive. The Ca’
Del Bosco is made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Blanc, and its
nose and palate are very much in agreement, both showing notes of
hazelnut, apple, pear, vanilla, and banana. The finish emphasizes
the fruity flavors, which lighten the earthiness of the risotto.
Acorn Squash, Pears, and Potatoes with Bucheron Cheese
Chef Jody Denton of Merenda – Bend, OR
This recipe combines a number of diverse flavors and merits a wine
that can do the same. Normally the Bucheron calls for a Loire Valley
white such as a Sancerre; I think something with a richer texture
and less overt acidity balances better with the other ingredients
in the dish.
White Burgundy makes a good like-with-like
match here. The Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les
Champs Gains 2002 takes it on blow-for-blow: Pear fruit?
Check. A note of hazelnut? Check. Minerally flavors and a medium
body to balance the squash? Check. Refreshing acidity, perfect for
goat cheese? It’s in there. Leflaive is a relative newcomer
to Burgundy, but from the get-go has been making excellent whites
and reds with an excellent eye for the virtues of individual appellations.
Squash Bread Pudding with Italian Sausage and Roasted Quince
Chef Todd Gray of Equinox –
This recipe really exploits the sweet/savory dichotomy of butternut
squash, which mediates between the fruit and meat elements and brings
the whole thing together. A dish which points in so many directions
needs a wine with versatility; this is Pinot Noir’s chance
Old World Pinot Noir – i.e.
red Burgundy – will most likely emphasize the rosemary and
sausage. To bring out the squash, try a fruitier California wine.
Chuck Wagner, the man behind the Caymus Cabernets, also has a new
Pinot Noir project down in the Santa Maria Valley near Santa Barbera.
He named the brand Belle Glos after his mother,
Lorna Belle Glos-Wagner. The Belle-Glos “Santa Maria”
Pinot Noir 2001 has a fruit-forward nose that highlights the squash,
quince, and cream. Lots of red berries – cherry, strawberry,
raspberry – jump out the glass, wrapped in a swath of vanilla.
Venison with Roasted Acorn Squash and Thyme Juslee
Chef James Clark of Palette Restaurant- Washington, DC
The squash in this dish is prepared very simply, and the three elements
on the plate – venison, squash, and thyme – provide
straightforward counterpoint to each other. A wine that touches
each of those aspects helps unite everything and keeps the relationships
in order. A red blend is most likely to able to bring together such
Venison plays a large part in
traditional Austrian cooking, and Austria’s up-and-coming
red wines offer great versatility at the table. In Burgenland, the
heart of Austrian red country, Leo Hillinger makes
a number of outstanding wines; his Hill 1 2002
is a blend of the Austrian native varietals Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch
together with Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose touches on blackberry,
earth, vanilla, and spice; the palate counters the dark berries
and earth with a roasted meat finish. Hill 1 has two sister wines:
a Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blend (Hill 2) and a botrytis-influenced
Chardonnay dessert wine (Hill 3); the series represents the premium
end of Hillinger’s wines.
Ginger Crème Caramel
From The Olives Dessert Table by Todd English (Simon &
Ginger adds a bright note to this dessert and elevates it over the
usual run of pumpkin cheesecakes and pies that appear each autumn.
Accent this side of the dessert with a similarly spicy wine. Some
Sauternes or SGN wines from Alsace might go well, but Tokaji from
Hungary hits the exotic bullseye.
Tokaji was known as Hungary’s
greatest wine until it fell on hard times during Communism; fortunately,
a combination of dedicated locals and in some cases foreign investment
is reviving interest in this spectacular dessert wine. Disznòkö
is an old estate of 247acres, operating since 1992 under the direction
of Bordeaux’s J.M. Cazes. They concentrate on integrating
modern technology with recovered traditional techniques to produce
the classical dessert “Aszú” wines as well as
dry wines from the indigenous grapes Furmint and Szamorodni.
Aszú 6 Puttonyos 1997 has a complex nose of apricot,
quince, honey, and spice touched by a streak of orange zest from
botrytis. Despite its sweetness, the wine is not too thick on the
palate; prominent acidity keeps it from getting cloying and extends
the flavors into a long finish.