Here in Manitoba, we’re experiencing an abnormally warm bit of weather for this late in September — with temps in the mid- to high-20s, I fear we here on the Prairies are being tricked by Mother Nature into thinking the deep freeze is never going to come.
Rest assured: it always comes.
Between summer and winter, Manitoba gets around 25 minutes of fall. Ok, it might be a touch longer than that, but it feels so much shorter to me because a) winter is so bloody long and b) fall is my favourite season.
In addition to breaking out the sweaters, my love for fall comes in large part due to the shift in food and wine leanings. Forget the crisp whites and rosés you’ve been drinking all summer; ‘tis the season to move back to bigger red wines and richer whites. I always try to hit the farmer’s market one or two last times before it shuts down to stock up on gourds, root vegetables, herbs, and all things earthy.
Back in the kitchen, heartier dishes take centre stage at my place. The slow cooker is dusted off, and together comes a hearty Beef Daube Provençal, featuring savoury fresh herbs, garlic, beef, carrots, tomatoes and more. Served with a starch and a warm baguette (ok, also technically a starch, I guess), and you’ve got all the trappings of the perfect fall meal for when the mercury dips down in the evenings.
You might know Beef Daube Provençal by its other, less-fancy name: beef stew.
And for wine? My go-to is a big rustic red along the lines of the Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2010 Cabernets, a blend of 70 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 per cent Cabernet Franc.
The Sekhon Family Vineyard in Osoyoos from which the fruit was sourced (and which was certified organic in 2012) gets plenty of summer sun and heat, meaning there’s great ripeness to the blackberry and cassis notes, while still retaining that complex herbal, peppery edge from the Cab Franc. Oak aging (24 months, to be specific) adds structure and depth to a wine already boasting balanced, grippy tannin.
Now, to go unpack my sweaters…
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press, and judges at wine competitions across the country. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson