There is no way I am writing about pumpkin spiced anything unless it is pumpkin pie. It’s not that I look down my nose at it, or that I don’t understand it. I totally get it, the lattes, the pumpkin ales on the market, and truth be known, if I were to try more of these I may enjoy them. I just probably wouldn’t admit it.

I can, however, say I am much more open-minded than I used to be. In recent years I’ve taken to finding suitable white wines for the right job. I was not at all disgusted by some of the peach and strawberry beers of the summer. I even found some lighter roux gumbos that knocked my socks off. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten softer, but maybe I have become a little more pliable.

As it is with politics, it’s never a wise idea to be too far left or too far right with your menu choices. Find the right pairing and roll with it. And though I’m not saying I won’t sneak a glass of rose or sauvignon blanc this week, I am saying the first cool snap gets me in the mood for earthy veggies and stews with darker wines and beers.

Beer me
In the Mobile heat, I cannot find it refreshing to drink an India pale ale (IPA) or anything overly hoppy. I steer toward pilsner and anything that tastes like beer. I call it lawn mowing beer. These beer festivals are a little off-putting when you wait in line, only to be warned at the bar that this beer has a “cotton candy flavor.” But as the temps fall below 70, I find myself reaching for a hardcore IPA or a stout.
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Nutty beers are nothing I shy away from, either. As the turnips and collards start to grow, I find a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan an excellent choice. I’m also fond of the Mississippi brewery’s Jefferson Stout.

Our local boys at Fairhope Brewing Company are killing it. With bottles now in stores you can enjoy the magic at home. The Everyday Ale never goes out of style. The Fairhope 51 is THE pale ale for our area. But the Judge Roy Bean should take us into Thanksgiving. This American stout has a bit of coffee from the Fairhope Roasting Company, so the creation is extra local. These are just a few of their offerings. Pay close attention to their seasonal brews. I love their creativity.

The stouts are great with anything beefy and IPAs are the choice when cooking chili. Next time you cook a head of cabbage, pour an entire bottle of one of these IPAs into the pot along with some kind of pork and a bit of prepared mustard. You’ll thank me.

For the wino in each of us
Fall rolls around. It is by far my favorite time of year. Football and root vegetables come to our doorsteps, and as corks are pulled the wine turns totally red for me. I go through phases. Right now my phase is pinot noir.

(Photo/ R. Stuart and Co.) As temperatures cool, darker and more complex wine and beer gains appeal.

(Photo/ R. Stuart and Co.) As temperatures cool, darker and more complex wine and beer gains appeal.


In the world of pinot noir, Oregon is knocking it out of the park. The Willamette Valley is tailor-made for pinot noir and one of my favorites is R. Stuart. I met Rob Stuart at a Southern Napa affair and fell in love with a couple of bottles. The Vignette pinot noir stood out. A 2012 runs about $30 per bottle. The finish is huge and stays with you. If that price is too much for you, then try his Big Fire pinot noir. It’s a little less in-your-face but packs a punch for $19.

What made Oregon famous could potentially make a mess out of me. I also have a soft spot in my heart for A to Z. It’s another long-finish wine with a lot of earth and a bit of tobacco with that common black cherry note that most pinot noirs belt out. You may find this in some grocery stores for around $19, and that is a heck of a wine for less than an Andrew Jackson.

If you’re on a budget but still want a good wine, the Italians have it going on. Try a Mezzacorona pinot noir. This is one of the most drinkable wines under $15 and can often be found on special for under $10. An Italian pinot noir is always great with charcuterie. Capicolla, mortadella, a few harder cheeses, quality olives and toasted nuts make this one come alive. You’ll believe you spent much more on the wine. Don’t even bother with crackers or toast.

A shockingly unique pinot I recently enjoyed was a 2013 Diora La Petite Grace from Monterey. They say the finicky pinot noir grape reflects the origin of its birth as much as, if not more than, any other. I believe it. This California version has the strong black cherry coming through and a bit of chocolate. It’s nothing like its Oregon counterparts and I cannot decide which I like better. This beauty hovers in the mid-$20 range but can be found for $19.99 if you know how to look.

Any of these pinot noirs would go well with grilled meats, especially pork, and the cool weather stews that are about to grace my stove. The same could be said for the heavier beers. Whatever your poison, I hope this column gives you a bit of insight into what I’ll be drinking for the next few months. Follow my lead or send me your better ideas. As I told you, I’m keeping an open mind.