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Sweaters, Stews and Shiraz

As a fall chill fills the air, digging into a hearty stew paired with an earthy wine makes for a cozy night by the fire.

As we embrace fall and all that it has to offer, preparing a hearty stew paired with a full-bodied red wine is a perfect way to get into the spirit of the season.  There are a number of red wines that complement the hearty stews and soups full of fresh root vegetables that are cooked this season. 

Fall wines should complement, not overpower your dish.  Here are a few fall favorites and what pairs well with them. Check with your local wine shop for their suggestions as well.

Shiraz-

Shiraz comes from a dark-skinned grape full of aroma and flavors of wild black fruit.  With overtones of black pepper spice this wine pairs nicely with roasts and beef stews.

Red Zinfandel-

Red Zinfandel comes from the zinfandel grape.  It is a deep red with bold, fruity flavors.  It pairs wonderfully with roasted turkey, tomato-based soups and stews, lamb, venison, and prime rib.

Pinot Noir-

The lighter variety of this popular wine has hints of berries, plums and cherries while the fuller bodies are more earthy. Pair with pot roast, meat loaf, gumbo, and root vegetables.

Cabernet Sauvignon-

Cabernet is a very popular red wine because it goes nicely with almost any red meat. It is a full-bodied wine with notes of currants and pepper.

Merlot-

The smoothness of merlot makes it a good start for beginning red wine drinkers.  Hints of plum, black cherry, and herbs fill your palate as you experience this popular favorite.

One of the best ways to enjoy your favorite red wine is by pairing it with a lovely fall soup or stew.  By utilizing Grandma's crock pot or your slow cooker, you can prepare your stew ahead of time and forget about it for the rest of the day. 

The secret to a great stew first of all is to slow down and cook with love.  The next secret is the size of the pieces of meat and vegetables you will use.  Stew should have large chunks of meat and vegetables so it can be stewed for a few hours without turning into mush. Adding in your favorite fresh herbs adds aroma and infuses the ingredients with flavor the longer it simmers.

In addition to a nice glass of red wine to go with your stew, pick up a crusty loaf of whole grain or your favorite bread from your local bakery.

Here are two of my fall favorites:

Fall Harvest Oven Stew

2 pounds of lean sirloin cut into large chunks

1/3 cup flour

1 large sweet diced Vidalia onion

4 peeled carrots cut into chunks

1 medium turnip peeled

4 large peeled, diced potatoes

4 cloves of garlic peeled and minced

2 cups of diced, peeled tomatoes with juice

1 cup of apple juice

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

½ bunch chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

First sauté the onion and garlic in a saucepan for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.  Sprinkle with flour until it becomes a thick paste. Slowly add apple juice until it bubbles.  Transfer into the crock pot, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

1 pound lean stew meat

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound new potatoes, quartered

1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks

2 small onions cut into wedges

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-ounce can beef broth

1 cup vegetable juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Directions:

Place flour in a large Ziploc bag. Add meat pieces and spices, shaking to coat. Heat oil over medium heat and brown meat until halfway cooked. Drain off fat.  Add to crock pot along with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on medium-high for 3-4 hours.

Either of these recipes can be adapted for vegetarians by substituting a few more root vegetables for the meat.

Cozy up to the fire in your favorite with , a warm bowl of your fresh cooked stew, a piece of a warm, crusty , and a hearty glass of your favorite and you are all set to welcome fall with open arms.

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