Every wine lover has a few favorite combinations, but, every once in a while, even the most seasoned connoisseur comes by a fruit that flummoxes his or her taste buds, or just wants to shake things up with something new.
The basic rules—such as pairing mild fruits with mild, light wines and sweet, heavy fruit with more full-bodied varieties— provide a road map. For those who want to take the road less traveled, here are a few pairings that will wake up your palate and please your friends, as well.
Gala apples have a hint of cinnamon to their bouquet that makes them a perfect match for a complex Chianti. Galas are mild, and, normally, it's best to pair milder fruits with milder wines. That being said, for an interesting twist, eat the fruit with a bottle of 2009 Castellare Chianti Classico. This wine has a very dark and intense flavor that creates a complex taste experience with hints of the coming fall. Galas also pair well with Riesling and Pinot Noir—a wonderful treat for an intimate picnic while watching the leaves change color.
People tend to either love cantaloupes or hate them, and there usually isn't much of an in-between for this late summer fruit. Even those who aren't fans of cantaloupes may become believers, however, when the melon is paired with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Serve this for a light appetizer with friends that won't overwhelm the upcoming meal.
The fig season is very short—from late summer to fall—but this honey-sweet fruit is well worth the wait and pairs divinely with Pinot Noir. There's no need to be snooty about the grape in this case. A Burgundy will enhance the Mediterranean palate, but choose a fruit-forward California variety for a little fun.
Pineapples peak during two seasons: early spring (February and March), and early fall (August and September). The early fall crop is very sweet and makes a wonderful after-dinner treat with the proper dessert wine. Barsac, part of the Bordeaux region, is famous for its dessert wines. Try Chateau Coutet.
Asian pears have a juicy, melon-like taste that pairs (pun intended) well with a fruit-forward Chardonnay. This combination produces a classic, rather romantic bouquet of flavors to accompany an intimate dinner.
Huckleberries and wine are a wonderful idea for a casual date. Those who live in the northern Midwest can have a blast picking wild huckleberries, which are a relative of the blueberry, and then sharing them over a bottle of sparkling dry wine or a dry Champagne.
If they are freshly picked, absolutely nothing beats the flavor of blackberries paired with a sweet, fruity white Riesling. Serve this pairing with friends during a casual, late- summer party or barbecue.
These fruits elicit a feeling as fuzzy as their exterior when paired with Fleurie AC Cru Beaujolais, a light and juicy red wine.
Pomegranates are very messy, so this is a treat to share with close friends on a warm day while doing something casual and fun. A California-based Pinot Noir makes a perfect accompaniment to this also California-grown fruit.
Starfruit is at its freshest and sweetest from late July to September. It is light, delicate and crispy with a sweet tart taste. This exotic, crisp fruit deserves an exotic, crisp wine, so pair it with a dry, yet floral Gewürztraminer for a refreshing afternoon snack that will wake up tired taste buds and impress your friends. There's no need to worry about spelling this wine’s name correctly if you pronounce it right: Geh-vurtz-tra-meh-ner... close enough.