Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
For me, the onset of real fall weather seems to have a bizarre neurochemical effect on my brain, which is that I start thinking, nearly constantly, about what I can cook that involves mushrooms. Mushroom risotto, roasted hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, shaved mushroom salads, wild mushroom ragù, mushroom pizza, mushroom ice cream - OK, enough of that.
Assuming you’re wired anything like I am, this also means that it’s time to break out those autumnal wines that go so well with anything fungoid. For me, that’s Pinot Noir from pretty much anywhere, Chianti and Barbera from Italy, and Rioja (especially when it’s had a few years to age).
To that end, here are some great mushroom-pairing wines:
2008 Blue Pirate Pinot Noir (approximately $15)
2009 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne and 2009 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne ($19 for the Asti, $24 or so for the Alba)
Regarding the difference between the two, I’ll just quote what Luca Currado from Vietti told me: “Bottom line for me, Alba is more elegant, more floral, more delicate; Asti is more rich, more masculine, even a bit more rustic sometimes. I like to tell people, Barbera from Alba is the Grace Kelly of Barbera; Barbera from Asti is the Angelina Jolie.” No way to improve on that.
2004 Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial (approximately $40)
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