Tasting Notes

A Seasonal Approach to Wine

Seasonal cuisine is more about slight changes every day than about hard and fast changes that happen with the calendar. When you look back at menus from three months ago, the change is remarkable but day-to-day, the change is gradual and almost unnoticeable.

For example, during the full first month of Fall, we were getting peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and greens. And then sweet potato leaves, which can be used like spinach or young kale, found their way into the kitchen. It wasn’t long before the first sweet potato entered the scene, and eggplant stopped showing up. We stopped getting the big, ripe tomatoes of August, but we continued to get sweet cherry tomatoes. The wines that accompany these seasonally-driven menus also evolve gradually, and I took a look back through menus from the past few years to see what we tended to pair with the cuisines of these seasons.

What I found, when I took a step back and looked at it with the perspective of time, was an interesting pattern that has occurred over the years. I think it shows what happens when the seasons shift from Spring and Summer to Fall and Winter from a wine perspective.

In the warmer seasons, I tend to pair and enjoy crisp, high-toned whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and lighter Gruner Veltliners. For the reds, I found that I enjoy pairing and sipping the more darkly fruited, intense reds such as Cabernet or Zinfandel. When the season shifts to the colder months, I flip this and reach for the more intense and aromatic whites such as Viognier, Muscat or Gewurztraminer, and for the reds, I shift to the lighter, brighter and high-toned reds such as Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and lighter Grenaches. So through warmer months we serve light whites and heavy reds and colder months we serve more of the heavier whites and lighter reds.

In the day-to-day of it all, these changes in wine choice seem slight and gradual. They may be driven by slight changes on a dish or a completely new menu item, such as the case when the sweet potato replaced the eggplant. But they are also triggered by feelings – such as the feeling you have on the first cold day when it really feels like Fall and the crisp, fresh wines of Summer porches just don’t seem to fit. So you make those slight changes and before long, all of the wines we are serving are different.

Andy Chabot, Director of Food and Beverage

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