Below is a list of suggested wine pairings for our November dinners.

First Course

 roasted kabocha squash toast
crab, pepitas, vin cotto

 It has been rare for us not to recommend something sparkling to accompany first courses for our farm dinners. They make everything more festive, and they pair exceptionally well with just about anything. One of the under-sung heroes of sparkling wine are French Crémants. They are made in an identical fashion to Champagne, and quite often, with the same grapes. Best part is, they offer exceptional value. Crémants are made all over France, but the best typically come from Alsace or Burgundy; great producers include: Bally-Lapierre, especially the Rosé and Domaine Guy Amiot in Burgundy. From Alsace, consider Domaine Camille Braun and Keuntz-Bas. Best Value: $20-$30.

 

Second Course 

autumn potatoes
crème fraîche, smoked salmon belly, dill oil 

Salmon and dill love bright, purple-fruited wines, so an obvious choice is Beaujolais-Villages; after November 15th, there’s also the option of Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau. Beaujolais, and especially Nouveau, sort of got lost during the “Parker Years,” because they are light (mostly) and fresh and very “Glou-Glou.” But wines made from the Gamy grape, like Beaujolais, are among the most food-friendly wines produced in France. Great producers include: Bret Brothers, Château de Lavernette, Clos de la Roilette and Jean-Marc Burgaud. Best Value: whatever you feel like spending!

 

Third Course

 mascarpone gnocchi
lobster, leeks, brown butter 

This is a rich dish and calls for a rich, well-balanced white wine: Pinot Blanc to the rescue. Also known as Pinot Bianco, Weissburgunder and Weisser Burgunder, this variety is grown all over the world and with rare exceptions, offers tremendous value. Price is a handy guide to style with less expensive wines being crisp and fresh with tree fruit aromas and flavors. Spend a bit more, and the texture gets richer, the flavors expand into stone fruit territory, and the wine fines a home with just about anything on the table. Producers of note include Wittmann in Germany, Colterenzio in Italy; Meyer-Fonné and Domaine Barmés-Buecher in Alsace; Brooks and Elk Cove in Oregon. Best Value: Around $20

 

Main Course 

braised beef short rib
creamy polenta, seared brussels, port wine jus 

This dish wants something dark and juicy, maybe with a little spice. There’s a bit of fat here, so something with some tannin will keep your palate fresh. While Zinfandel would work here, an Italian wine, innately great with food, would be a good option, too. What to choose? Primitivo, which as it happens, is genetically identical to Zinfandel. All those great flavors, but with the sort of balancing acidity that keeps it fresh. Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, is the home of Primitivo, but there are great examples in Campania as well. Among the best producers are Alberto Longo, Castello Monaci, Masseria Li Veli, Menhir, and Regina Viarum. Best Value: $20 and under

 

Dessert 

carrot cake
pecan praline, cream cheese ice cream, rum-raisin purée 

You do not necessarily need to finish your meal with a glass of sweet wine, but this carrot cake is so perfectly suited to one of the world’s greatest wines, Pedro Ximénez (PX) from Spain. This variety is grown around the town of Jerez, the home of Sherry and in the region of Montilla-Moriles in Andalucía. The grapes are picked late and allowed to dry and then undergo a long fermentation. Although a white grape, these wines range in color from amber to dark brown. They are nutty wines with a creamy, rich texture and the ever so slight suggestion of raisins…among at least 100 different aromas and flavors. Always complex and long, the tiniest sip brings immense satisfaction. It doesn’t really go bad, so even if you only have a sip, the rest of the bottle will last a very long time. Producers of note: Barbadillo, Dios Baco, Emilio Hidalgo and Tora Albalá. Best Value: Considering that you may have it around for a while, around $20-$30.