The fabulous riches of the Autumn larder are nature's compensation for Summer's parting and as I reacclimatise to muddy, misty dog walks, stacking firewood and washing school uniform I realise that there is much to look forward to – wild mushrooms, flavoursome root vegetables and gourds, hedgerow fruit and game in all its glory.
As the salads and frittatas of the warmer months are so well-suited to lighter wines, so now we can anticipate some weightier Rhône wines full of the blushful Hippocrene with some more warming dishes. A crowd-pleasing starter can be quickly produced by frying fresh girolles in butter and serving them on sourdough toast that has been rubbed with raw garlic. I'd dress that with salt and pepper, any pan juices and plenty of chopped parsley. This month's peach-fruited IGP Viognier from Domaine de Durban would be an ideal accompaniment.
I love braising venison as an alternative to beef and simply brown-off roughly diced and lightly-floured and seasoned steak in a large casserole followed by whole small onions and bite-sized chunks of carrot. When that has all coloured nicely I add a bottle of chest-thumping red, a spoonful of cooked lardons, a few bay leaves and peppercorns and leave it for a couple of hours in the oven, with the lid firmly on, at around 180 degrees C. Having checked all is well and added more wine (or water) if required I then add a generous portion of pre-cooked chestnut mushrooms, more seasoning as required, and give the whole lot another 30-40 minutes. That can then be served at your leisure along with some creamy, buttery mashed potatoes and some steamed broccoli or alternative brassica of your choosing. You can't go far wrong with either of this month's red wines with (and in) that but I think I'd favour the Pic Saint-Loup and have the Rioja later with some aged Manchego.