Early Autumn Dinner Party

Early Autumn Dinner Party

The first cool autumn breezes are upon us, so it’s time to turn our thoughts toward indoor dinners and comforting dishes. With touches of tomatoes, figs, cheese and roasted poultry, this month’s menu is a chance to get our senses ready for the fall nights to come. Lenn Thompson has offered wine pairings below to make things easy.

Now gather round the table: It’s time to turn the oven back on at last and savor the first hints of fall’s bounty.


Tomato and Nectarine Timbale
Suggested wine pairing: German Riesling
(see Wine Notes below for further details)


Silky Blue Cheese Soup
Suggested wine pairing: Blanc de Blancs


Boneless Quail stuffed with Poultry Quenelle, served with Sautéed Mushrooms
Suggested wine pairing: Pinot Noir


Fig Tart with Vanilla Crème Patissière
Suggested wine pairing: Moscato d’Asti


Below you’ll find the explanations for Lenn Thompson’s wine suggestions. For more notes about Lenn’s other wine explorations, visit his LENNDEVOURS blog.

Tomato and Nectarine Timbale

Varietal: German Riesling

Reasoning: Riesling, particularly those from Germany, offer peach, apricot and citrus flavors that work well with the nectarines in the recipe, with tongue-tingling acidity that can stand up to the high-acid tomatoes. You could also go with a sauvignon blanc here, but they tend to be bolder and bigger, so they can overpower the dish.

Silky Blue Cheese Soup

Varietal: Blanc de Blancs

Reasoning: A rich, full-flavored soup like this one deserves an elegant, palate-cleansing pairing. Sparkling Pinot Blanc, like a Cremant d’Alsace, is light, citrusy and minerally, so it will cut the soup’s richness without competing with its flavors.

Boneless Quail with Poultry Quenelle

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Reasoning: Pinot noir is perhaps the ultimate wine for fowl. Typically, pinot will offer cherry and raspberry flavors, acidity and earthy notes that will all enhance the different flavors in the stuffing. If French Burgundy is too expensive, look to Oregon, which produces some of the best American pinots.

Fig Tart with Vanilla Crème Patissière

Varietal: Moscato d’Asti

Reasoning: Lightly sweet with gentle frizzante, Moscato d’Asti is floral and citrusy and not at all cloying or heavy. Plus, they tend to have lower alcohol (around 5%) than most dessert wines.

Photo: Kelly Cline


For those curious about the meaning of mise en place, it is a French culinary term for “set in place.” If you have ever watched a cooking show, or been inside a restaurant kitchen, you will notice that next to the cooking area, things are set up just so. Ingredients, sauces and critical elements are ready to be used, whether pre-cooked, pre-chopped, or ready as a garnish. This kind of organized setup enables a cook to focus on the actual act of cooking itself without distraction. Our intention with this section is to use the same approach at home, enabling you to host your own special occasions with flair.