I notice a huge shift in my food preferences when the weather changes. Ice cream and cold foods are no longer that appealing. My tastes turn to spices, heat and autumn flavors, like pumpkin, apple and squash. Hearty vegetable stews (add meat, if you’re not a vegetarian) and robust wines are the ticket come October.
If you are planning to entertain a crowd or have a small gathering, I recommend a one-pot style main dish coupled with side dishes brought by your guests. A one-pot style main dish is easy to prepare and yields a tasty, warming meal. For our recipe today, I chose Carroty Mac and Cheese from epicurious.com. (Recipe follows.)
On the wine front, I’m all about giving people choices. You’re likely to have a wide spectrum of tasters, from red-only drinkers to ABC club members (anything but Chardonnay) to sweet wine drinkers. Without going overboard, you want to honor people’s varying tastes, while still honoring the food being served and celebrating the fall season.
If you were to serve epicurious.com’s Carroty Mac and Cheese recipe, here are the wines I would have in my lineup:
- Chardonnay – This is my favorite wine with macaroni and cheese year round. But in the fall, the combination is even better, since a lightly chilled Chardonnay (55 degrees) with hints of apples and apple pie spices does such a great job of evoking autumn’s overtones.
- A full-bodied dry Rosé – Why Rosé? Rosé pairs very well with a broad array of dishes. For sweet wine drinkers, even a dry Rosé has enough sweetness to be satisfying. Rosé is the logical autumn move from an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc or other typically cold white wine.
- An earthy Pinot Noir – Think mushrooms. Think warmth. Think fall.
- A big, bad red with deep berry flavors (Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, etc.) – The robustness of these wines makes people feel warm and fuzzy all over ☺
Cheers to a WINEderful Autumn! GO BEARS!
• 2 cups whole wheat macaroni
• 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 8 small)
• 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese*
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 3/4 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven.
2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water; add carrot 3 minutes before pasta is finished cooking; drain well.
3. While pasta is hot, stir in all but 1/2 cup of the cheddar and the butter. In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder, and pepper. Fold mixture into the pasta.
4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the Parmesan over the top. Bake until the casserole is firm to the touch and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
*Add or substitute Gruyère, aged Cheddar, pecorino, and aged Gouda for a more sophisticated allure.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I’m privileged to be able to bring the taste of the Napa wine country to you through a delicious offering of artisan wines, wonderful in-home wine tastings, personalized wines and my wine blog, Betty’s Wine Musings. If you have any wine needs I can help you out with, please free to contact me. I look forward to WINEing with you!