As the days become cooler and shorter, you want food and drinks that warm you up — soup and red wine among them. But this butternut squash soup has some surprise pairings: a zippy, high-acid sauvignon blanc and a ripe arneis, a white wine from Italy. “Pairing a fresh, bright wine with rich fall flavors helps keep the meal from becoming too heavy,” says sommelier Nate Redner. If you can’t break out of red mode, he has one pinot noir that will fit the bill too.
Make this: Squash Soup with Sausage
Cook 1/2 cup orzo pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven; add 1 small onion, chopped, and 2 links precooked chicken sausage, sliced. Cook until onion has softened and sausage has lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon chopped thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Pour in 1 carton (32 ounces) butternut squash soup; cook until warmed through, stirring occasionally, 7-10 minutes. Drain pasta; add to soup. Makes: 4 servings
Recipe by Renee Enna
Pairings by sommelier Nate Redner, of Oyster Bah, as told to Michael Austin:
2014 Alice et Olivier De Moor Saint-Bris, Burgundy, France: Sauvignon blanc from just outside of Chablis seems like a misnomer, but it’s true. This wine is grassy and herbaceous with notes of tarragon, bright lemon zest and a slight smoky character, plus taut and zippy acidity to cut through the richness of the dish.
2015 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis, Piedmont, Italy: Arneis is weighty and unctuous by nature, showing notes of ripe apple, pear, savory herbs and sweet white flowers — a nice partner for the autumn flavors of this dish. Many aromas in this wine mimic those in the dish itself, including sage, thyme and cooked apple. Arneis grown in Roero tends to be ripe and full while still maintaining freshness and lift, and this wine fits that description perfectly.
2013 Cristom Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon: Deep ruby color and flavor to match. Ripe red fruits are evident right upfront, leading to the more compelling spice characteristics that make this wine a great match for this soup. The wine’s star anise, clove and black pepper will complement the squash, while its dark fruit core will tackle the pairing challenge that balsamic vinegar presents. Both the wine and the soup are velvety, smooth and comforting.