The Best Wine Pairings For Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, According To A Sommelier

If autumn weather has you craving your favorite fall recipes, you're in good company. When the leaves change colors, and the sweaters come out, how are we supposed to not daydream about a delicious pumpkin pasta sauce and a nice glass of wine? In pursuit of our fall fantasy, we asked Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier at Bright Cellars, what she thought would be the perfect wine pairing for the job.

"Pumpkin pasta sauce is rich and creamy, often with a soft herb such as sage or fall spices such as cinnamon," Fallis said. "A lighter red, without super-ripe fruit and oak, and with fresh, natural acidity for balance is the way to go. Italian reds such as Barbera, Valpolicella, or Nero d'Avola are nice choices." There you have it: The heart-warming flavors of pumpkin are big enough to warrant reaching for the red wine aisle while being mellow enough not to require the boldest wine available.

Tips and tricks for wine pairing

The easiest way to understand wine pairing is to think about balance and matching intensity. If you have a hearty piece of steak in front of you, pairing that with something light and fruity is going to throw the whole thing off. The flavor profiles don't match, and neither does the intensity. Something as bold as steak is going to blend better with a big, bold red. The flavors of the wine won't get drowned out by the flavors of the steak, and vice versa.

If you're enjoying a fruit salad or a filet of fish, you're likely not going to experience them as bold and powerful. The flavors are lighter, and the wine should follow suit. If you paired a cabernet sauvignon with a piece of grilled fish drizzled with lemon juice, they would start competing with each other instead of complementing each other.

The pumpkin pasta sauce is somewhere in the middle because it's rich and creamy while still having a fruity brightness. There isn't a hard set rule over how to determine how bold a dish is, which makes wine pairing difficult if you're just starting off. The more you pay attention to what you're eating and drinking, the easier it will become to notice when something works and why. Practice makes perfect.