The crisp fall air has begun to creep in. Summer’s over. Backyard barbecues and rooftop parties will return in 2019, but for now it’s time to move on and accept that it’s the fall and put away the rosé. Instead, reach for wines that complement autumnal vegetables and oven-roasted meats instead of summery salads and grilled seafood.
To get a handle on the best reds to drink this fall, we turned to Gabriela Davogustto, wine director of Harlem’s Clay restaurant. Davogustto is an Institute of Culinary Education graduate who’s cooked in the kitchens of NYC favorites Wallsé and Boqueria. She soon caught real feelings for wine, though, and followed her passion in her work for other major hotspots like Locanda Verde and Vinateria, where she was recognized by Decanter Magazine for creating one of the 16 best lists in the city.
She’s passionate about natural wines, which is why her list at Clay is entirely composed of labels produced with minimal intervention. She believes that chemical-free vineyards allow for the ultimate expression of terroir and are ideal environments for the people who work and live in them. Those in-the-know seem to agree with Davogustto, awarding Clay a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and a spot on this year’s Wine & Spirits Magazine’s NYC50.
Here are her picks for the best red wines to pair with your favorite fall dishes.
Butternut Squash Soup
“I like a richly textured wine with only a bit of tannins for a refreshing acidity,” she says. “With notes of stone fruit and almonds, the Gadabout from Donkey and Goat—a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Vermentino and Chardonnay—is perfect for fall and a great match for a rich butternut squash soup.”
Roasted Pork Tenderloin
“Ideal for fatty meat, Pedro Parra y Familia’s Imaginador from Chile is a blend of mostly Cinsault and a bit of Carignan.” she says. “It’s mineral and fresh, light and structured, floral and full of red juicy fruit flavors.”
Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
“I would reach for a wine that has flavors of bright red fruits and silky tannins, like Carignane from Tony Coturri. Since it’s full in both texture and body it’s ideal for this hearty dish.”
“I always say: What grows together, goes together,” she says. “And that goes for pastas as well. I would definitely recommend Barbera della Stoppa from Emilia Romagna for this dish—it’s full-bodied with notes of herbs and dark fruits like black cherry.”
“A vintage with flavors of bright red fruits that’s mineral-heavy with refreshing acidity would be a perfect match for a roasted chicken,” she says. “My first choice would be a beautiful balanced wine made from mostly Nerello Mascalese from Eduardo Torres Acosta, Vert Nord, in Sicily.”