Autumn Delights

Sommeliers share their favorite fall dishes paired with perfect wines.

by Virginia Philip

 Virginia Philip • Master Sommelier at The Breakers in Palm Beach • Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy, West Palm Beach • 2012 James Beard Award Nominee
Virginia Philip
• Master Sommelier at
The Breakers in Palm Beach
• Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy, West Palm Beach
• 2012 James Beard Award Nominee

Sommeliers share their favorite fall dishes paired with perfect Virginia Philip

Don’t you just love autumn? The golden hues and red colors of leaves, cooler temperatures, and fresh fall air give much anticipated relief from the hot summer days. (While we certainly don’t experience a golden shift of colors in Florida, that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend we do!) So what does one drink during this time? Possibly it will be a wine that evokes memories of a time, place, or event. It may be a dinner with a close friend or someone special. Florida sommeliers offer their own favorite fall dishes paired with seasonal favorites.

Sommelier: Mariya Kovacheva, Café Boulud, Palm Beach

Hometown: Chirpan, Bulgaria
Dish: Egg yolk raviolo with white truffles
Wine: Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco, Camp Gros Martinenga, Piemonte, Italy, 2001
Why: White truffles are one of my most expected gifts of autumn. They have a short season — from September to December — and are a real treat for fall. I recommend them with a simple, but bursting-with-flavor, dish — egg yolk raviolo — so it can stand up to the intense aromas of the white truffles.
Additional Thoughts: Correspondingly, some of the best wines to match that pairing come from a place where white truffles are found — Piedmont, Italy. The vineyards around the communes of Barolo and Barbaresco produce some of the most sought-after wines in the world. Those wines possess aromas, flavors, and intensity that make them a great partner for white truffle dishes. One of my preferred choices is the Marchesy di Gresy Barbaresco, Camp Gros Martinenga. Intensely perfumed and truly ethereal, it never disappoints.


Sommelier: Richard Paladino, Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy

Hometown: Long Island, New York
Dish: Wild mushroom ravioli topped with duck confit, toasted pine nuts, pancetta-braised baby kale with a sage brown-butter sauce
Wine: Icardi Suri Di Mu, Babera D’Alba, Piedmont, Italy, 2012
Why: The plump red-berry fruits balance out the seductive richness of the duck confit and pancetta greens. The rustic notes on this wine will coincide perfectly with the earthiness of the wild mushrooms and the sage brown butter.


Sommelier: Juan Gomez, Master Sommelier, The Breakers

Hometown: Campeche, Mexico
Dish: Tomato and huitlacoche cream served with chorizo
A perfect dish for the season uses classic ingredients of Mexican cuisine, including flavorful chorizo sausage and huitlacoche, which is a delicacy known as a Mexican “truffle.”
Wine: Muga Selección Especial Reserva, Rioja, Spain, 2010
Why: The ripe and black fruit of this Tempranillo-based wine complements the creamy consistency of the dish, while its toasted-oak aroma accentuates the smokiness of the chorizo. It is followed by the savory flavors of the huitlacoche and harmonizes perfectly with the earthy finish of the wine.

Sommelier: Levin Glane, Buccan, Palm Beach

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Dish: Turkey with all the fixings for Thanksgiving
(When I think about fall, I always think about Thanksgiving.)
Wine: Ravines Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York, 2013
Why: The mineral content in the wine has enough acid to cut through an overcooked turkey on Thanksgiving. After all, someone always seems to overcook the turkey!

Sommelier: Hakan Balkuvvar, The Setai, Miami Beach

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Dish: One of my favorite Turkish dishes and wine pairings is “Sultan’s Delight” — Hünkar Begendi — braised lamb stew served on a bed of creamy, roasted-eggplant purée.
I have heard two different stories surrounding the name of this dish, Hünkar Beğendi, which literately translates as “the Sultan liked it.” The first one is that the dish was created for Sultan Murad IV (1612-1640) and he obviously liked it. Where the dish was created — in the palace kitchens or in the kitchen of a moderate house in which Murad IV spent a night on his way back from a hunting trip — is not clear. The second rumor is that the same dish was served for Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in Sultan Abdülaziz’s Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869, and she liked it so much that Abdülaziz promised her to ask his chef to give the Empress’s cook the recipe. The rumor goes that Abdülaziz’s chef was reluctant to share his recipe.

autumn-delights3Wine Pairing: Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro Naousso, Peloponnese, Greece, 2013
Why: Xinomavro is the star grape on Greece’s Peloponnese Peninsula. Its many viticultural attributes perfectly define the premium Naousso region. Xinomavro is seen as a bold version of Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo, but with more natural acidity and somewhat potent tannins. However, young-gun winegrower Apostolos Thymiopoulos uses delicate fruit from his newest vines to make this fresh, bright, blueberry-flavored gem. This lamb stew is relatively straightforward with a slow-cooking technique helping to break down the density of its protein and amalgamate the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh and dried herbs. It’s the creamy eggplant purée that adds “grunt” to the dish, which this juicy Xinomavro more than comfortably accommodates.

The next time you have an opportunity, stop by and say hello to these wonderful sommeliers. While the dishes presented may not be available, the wines will be!

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