‘Tis the season, am I right?

By Betty Gold
September 10, 2019
Photo by bhofack2 via Getty iMages

Yep. It’s officially *that* time of the year.

Pumpkin spice, which doesn’t necessarily contain pumpkin in its ingredients, is usually made up of a combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. Whether you wait all year for the monumental return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte or prefer to get your fix in foods like baked goods (muffins! breads! cakes!), it’s unquestionably the most festive (and cult-worthy) fall flavoring.

According to Cassandra Rosen, a wine expert with Tussock Jumper Wines, pumpkin spice has a surprisingly solid taste profile for pairing with wines—a select number of varietals, that is.

“Generally, what varietals that work best with those ingredients are late harvest wines, or wines that have a little more residual sugar in them, due to being left on the vine a bit longer. Wines picked later usually have just the right amount of sweetness, and will pair nicely with that spicy, sweet flavor that we all love."

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Here are the bottles Rosen suggests you serve at your next seasonal soiree.

French Chardonnay

“Aromas of apricot, pear, and green apple make this French Chardonnay more like a Bordeaux than your typical butter bomb,” Rosen explains. Fresh and fruit forward, notes of toasted sweet hazelnuts, citrus flower, and just a hint of vanilla from brief oak aging make it a perfect wine for pairing with the spicy sweet notes in pumpkin pie, as well as pumpkin spice cookies.

Chenin Blanc

Off-dry in style with a floral nose, the typical tropical flavors of Chenin, like peach and pineapple, along with crisp minerality, makes it the perfect wine for pairing with pumpkin spiced soups and savory crackers with a creamy pumpkin spice dip.

Moscato

A Moscato is spritzy and sweet, with notes of mandarin oranges, sugared lime, lychee, and melon, with a creamy, bubbly finish. This varietal is perfectly paired with pumpkin spice ice cream, pumpkin spice white chocolate mousse, or other sweet dishes.

Rosé

This wine varietal goes beyond summer. With notes of candied orange peel, white flower, and bright, carnation pink bubbles, this rosé has been described by fans as ‘if soda and rosé had a baby.’ Pair it with a sweet and savory grilled cheese sandwich using gluten-free raisin bread, Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, and creamy Brie cheese.

Riesling

This semi-sweet, smooth-drinking grape has flavors of juicy sweet golden apple, melon, and lemon, along with bright crisp acidity. It’s the perfect match for pumpkin spice glazed ham, pumpkin spice yogurt, and savory dishes.

California Zinfandel

“A California Zin is my any-day-of-the-week wine,” says Rosen. With aromas of cherry compote, vanilla bean, and wild strawberries, as well as flavors of black currants and spice, it’s easy drinking and a perfect complement to a savory pumpkin spice dish like whipped sweet potatoes, or something sweet like pumpkin chocolate chip cake.

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Spanish Rioja

Aged for a year in French oak, this Spanish red has flavors of red berries and dark fruits like currants and blackberries, as well as soft, velvety tannins and a silky finish. Pair it with a green salad topped with pumpkin spice croutons, aged parmesan cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a sweet balsamic dressing.

Argentine Malbec

Lush, with flavors of the forest floor, dark plum, baking spices, and oak, along with a smooth, spicy finish makes this wine a perfect partner for savory dishes like pumpkin soup with cinnamon and nutmeg. Also try roasting fresh pumpkin with pumpkin spice seasoning, smoked paprika, cracked pepper, and sea salt for a savory side dish.

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