Pumpkin Pie Spice and Washington Wine pairings

Four Pumpkin Pie Spice Desserts and a Savory Pumpkin Pie Spice Chili

Today is perhaps the tastiest of National Day celebrations, National Dessert Day. A day when without regret or remorse you can fully surrender your sweet tooth to all of those delicious treats that you crave. Since we are well into Autumn I want to also celebrate one of the most popular flavors of Fall, Pumpkin Pie Spice and share some recipes that will carry you through the season. The warm flavors of Pumpkin Pie Spice is one of my favorite Fall flavors, so I set out to challenge myself to make some sweet desserts and a savory meal with the Pumpkin Pie Spice taking center stage and then pairing them with Washington wines that complement the spices found in the dishes.

Now, even though aroma of pumpkin isn’t a common tasting note for wines, the blend of sweet and savory spices found in a Pumpkin Pie Spice definitely are. A wine taster will often pull out those hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger and even allspice.

Pumpkin Spice Apple Dip with Riesling

Quick and easy to make, a smooth, spicy pumpkin dip sweetened with a touch of brown sugar and maple syrup is perfect for dipping crisp Fall Harvest apples and pears, or cookies and graham crackers. While the main flavor here is pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, the base of the dip is cream cheese which give the dip some texture and a nice creamy consistency.

2018 Sagemore Vineyards Riesling from Lagana Cellars in Walla Walla, WA., For most winelovers it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I chose a Riesling to pair with one of my Pumpkin Pie Spice desserts, as Riesling is often a wine that is suggested to pair with sweet dishes. The Pumpkin Spice Apple Dip was a great match with the apple, pear and citrus flavors of this German style Riesling. Pleasant hints of minerality and a acidic mouthwatering long finish blended well with the sweetness of the dip and the juicy crispness of the fruit. This 2018 Sagemore Vineyards Riesling is available to order from Lagana Cellars website and sells for $16, which is a great value for a really refreshing Washington Riesling that also has the ability to age well.

Riesling with some freshly harvest apples and pears from my backyard with this Pumpkin Spice Apple Dip was a perfect way to enjoy a beautiful Fall day outside.

Pumpkin Spice Apple Dip

This easy Pumpkin Spice Apple Dip will bring out the best of Fall's flavors and is perfect for enjoying with fresh apple and pear slices.
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 4


  • ¾ cup Regular or 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Pumpkin Puree (canned)
  • 2 tsp Maple Syrup
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (Extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 24 Apple and Pear Slices


  • Place first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add syrup, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, and beat until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Serve with apple and pear slices.

Another wine that would go really well with this Apple Dip is an aged White Burgundy, these wines hold many of the same flavors that fans of pumpkin spice pursue. These wines especially from villages such as Meursault, often have Chardonnay with baking spices and vanilla in youth their youth that develop into nutty caramel, sprinkles of cinnamon and honey aromas with time.

Spice Tip: For Cinnamon, when used in a sweet dishes, especially with apples or pears, match it with a Late Harvested Riesling and a Rioja. Also, other oak matured Spanish reds goes really well with a savory dish that is seasoned with this warm spice.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rice Krispy Treats with Gewürztraminer

Kiona Vineyards in Richland, WA. is a favorite of mine when it comes to Washington wines because of their selection of wines that are typically not found in Washington state such as Lemberger, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc Ice Wine and Gewürztraminer. On my last trip to the winery after a wonderful tasting, many of these unique wines came home with me and I couldn’t think of a better pairing with these Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rice Krispy treats than Kiona’s beautiful bottle of Gewürztraminer.

For these Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rice Krispy Treats follow the Classic recipe on the back of the box and after the marshmallows are melted add 1 Tbsp Minced Candied Ginger and 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice with the vanilla before folding in the Rice Krispy cereal. It’s that easy!

An extra ingredient to these Rice Krispy Treats in addition to the Pumpkin Pie Spice is finally minced Candied Ginger. A little tip, if you put a small amount of sugar in a bowl and add your minced candied ginger to it a little at a time lightly coating the pieces they will not stick together and will be more evenly dispersed in the Rice Krispy treats.

Why pair a beautiful floral Gewürztraminer with such a simple dessert? For me it was to heighten the distinctive ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg aromas and flavors of this wine without adding too much sugar from the dessert. They actually played very well together as the Kiona Gewürztraminer’s 2.3% residual sugar lead the way for the sweet that I was craving but it did not bully the spices of the Rice Krispy treat. This 2016 vintage from Kiona has all of the classical characteristics of Gewürztraminer with a wonderful fizzante there to surprise you. This wine can be ordered on Kiona’s website and priced at just $20 it is a great value for such a unique Washington Gewürztraminer.

Fresh and dried ginger is a spice that can be found in many recipes all around the world and depending on how the ginger is used, with sweet or spicy dishes a number of wines would work well with it. If I hadn’t paired the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rice Krispy treats with a Gewürztraminer then I would have thrown caution to the wine and opened up a bottle of Champagne or Crémant.

Spice Tip: For Ginger when used in a savory dish pick a red that complements the spiciness of the Ginger such as a Zinfandel or a Syrah. The Syrah/Shiraz grape has it’s own spicy not but if you want something special to accompany the Ginger’s flavor in the food, select an Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. This hot region’s Shiraz delivers plenty of powerful fruit but also has a combination of rich, savory spices and exotic sweet notes that will make for a perfect pairing with a savory Ginger dish.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars

The amazing combination of chocolate and pumpkin in these dreamy Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars will give traditional pumpkin pie a run for its title as Fall’s favorite dessert! I think I am right when I say that Fall needs more chocolate desserts! So this year, when someone asks for “something with chocolate please” as a dessert at Thanksgiving, give everyone something that they want and make these scrumptious Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars.

When I thought about this pairing I considered a fairly long list of potential wines, then I remembered a Washington white blend that I picked up last year from Northstar Winery in Walla Walla and I knew that I had found the perfect match for these Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars.

This 2017 Stella Blanca white blend is a combination of 71% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Muscadelle. The refreshing creaminess of this blend gives you the hint of citrus that is needed to counterbalance the sweetness of the pumpkin and chocolate with a zest of lemon and notes of vanilla and dried flowers. The smooth long crisp finish really highlights the weekly sur lie stirrings delivering a wonderfully pleasant mouth feel and beautiful aromatics.

Soft but more like a brownie cookie than a cake, the chocolate layer is the supporting base for the smooth and silky pumpkin layer that tastes just like pumpkin pie! These Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars combine a mixture of flavors that will be a hit to any Holiday gathering this year.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bars

These chocolate pumpkin bars feature layers of rich chocolate cake, silky pumpkin pie and a lightly dusted pumpkin spice topping.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes


Chocolate Layer

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup butter (melted)

Pumpkin Spice Layer

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice


  • 1 container ( 10.6 oz.) Cool Whip
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice


  • Heat the oven to 350F.
    Line a 13X9" baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch of paper hanging over the sides.
    In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 egg.
    With the paddle attachment on, start stirring at low speed slowing pouring in the melted butter.
    The chocolate mixture should resemble crumbly cookie dough.
    With your fingers, press the chocolate mixture evenly on the bottom of the baking pan.
    In a mixing bowl add the cream cheese, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree and dry pudding mix and pumpkin spice. Mix on low speed until blended. Pour over crust.
    Bake for 40 – 45 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
    Remove from the oven and cool completely.
    Spread the frosting over the cooled dessert and sprinkle with ½ tsp pumpkin spice before cutting into bars.

Everybody loves the idea of pairing wine and chocolate, and with good reason. However, the flavors of chocolate and wine aren’t always as compatible as one might think, and the culprit is not the wine, but the intense flavors of the chocolate. So, if it is a red wine that you are looking for to go along with these Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Spice Bars look for a fruity, intense wine, like a California Zinfandel or instead, pour a sweet dessert wine, like a Ruby port, which is sweet and full of berry flavors but is also a powerful classic match for chocolate.

Spice Tip: Nutmeg is incredibly intense nutty and slightly sweet warm spice, with a distinctively strong aroma that can be used in sweet and savory cooking. A key component of the classic béchamel sauce and used to flavor a host of sauces, custards and puddings, whole nutmeg freshly grated is when this spice is at its best. If you are looking for wines to match this classic holiday spice, consider Gamay, bursting with raspberry and cherry flavors it works nicely with the nutty and sweet notes of a spice like nutmeg.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping

Some people crave pumpkin pie in the Fall, but my first thought for a pumpkin dessert is always Pumpkin Cheesecake, add in a little bourbon and you will have a dessert to Wow any Holiday dinner guest. This pumpkin cheesecake features a delicious rich and creamy pumpkin cheesecake filling, a warm spiced crunchy gingersnap cookie crust, and is topped with a smooth bourbon sour cream layer. The recipe is adapted from the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping recipe found on Epicurious with a few additions. Instead of graham crackers I used crumbled gingersnap cookies as part of my crust with the addition of 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. The spices in the cheesecake mix were changed to only using 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, instead of individual spices and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice was also added to the sour cream topping mix.

If following a general rule for finding the right wine to complement a cheesecake you want to make sure the wine is just a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not in all. When pairing a wine with a pumpkin spice cheesecake it’s important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness while taking the spice flavors into account. The spicy, cinnamon and allspice notes of a pumpkin cheesecake can be beautifully brought out by a white wine, a sparkling white or rosé, even a Riesling, which can soften the spiciness, allowing the flavors to be appreciated without overpowering the taste buds.

For this pairing I wanted to bring out the pumpkin pie spice even more by matching it with Treveri Cellars Sparkling Gewürztraminer. This 100% Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington has a hint of sweetness and a slight floral aroma and flavor that is a lovely combination with the exotic fruit and inviting spice found in this bottle of sparkling wine. I am a big fan of all of Treveri’s wines but the uniqueness of this sparkling Gewürztraminer makes it an ideal wine to pair with the array of sweet and warm spice flavors that come out in the pumpkin cheesecake. Any white sparkling wine or Champagne would be a welcome sip while enjoying this dessert, but another alternative would be Sauternes. A sweet and luxurious Sauternes with it’s classic flavors of orange blossom and notes of baking spices would only enhance the combination of flavors found in a pumpkin cheesecake.

Spice Fact: Pumpkin Pie Spice has become a staple in coffee shops and grocery stores starting in late September and continuing until Thanksgiving, some people may call it a spice craze but for many people it is like a starting line flag going down to get us ready for the Holidays in the months to come. The actual blend of spices used in Pumpkin Pie Spice may vary depending on the manufactures or home cooks recipe but this mixture of spices was first introduced as “pumpkin pie spice” or “pumpkin spice” by McCormick in the 1950’s. Now it is a common addition to numerous popular recipes, many of which don’t actually contain pumpkin.

Beefy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Spice Chili

On a chilly Autumn day preparing a savory and spicy meal can be just what the doctor ordered and when it is It has loaded with a variety of beans, big chunks of sweet potatoes there is only one thing that can turn up the volume and that is wine. Chianti is one of the secret ingredients to this amazing chili, along with fresh poblano pepper and of course pumpkin pie spice. But how do you match wines to a spicy dish like a chili that is also infused with the sweet warm flavors of Pumpkin Pie Spice? GO BOLD! Chose that bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that you have been saving and make it a meal to remember.

Believe me, I know that this recipe does have a lot of steps, and short cuts can definitely been taken to make it quicker, but if you follow my recipe I can almost guarantee that you will be making this Chili again and again all Fall and Winter long.

I used an Instant Pot to cook my dried beans and beef, if you don’t have one or want to save some time then use canned mixed beans and simmer you beef in the beef broth for 15 minutes before adding it and the canned beans to the chili mixture.

When you use the Instant Pot you are giving the dried beans and beef ample time to soak up all of the seasoning which only enhances the final flavor of this chili.

Beefy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Spice Chili

This is a delicious and hearty recipe with the warm Fall flavors pumpkin pie spice! A real crowd pleaser!


  • Instant pot


Meat and Bean mixture for Instant Pot

  • 2 pound beef chuck or stewing meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups mixed dried beans
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 cups water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Chili Ingredients

  • tbsp chili powder
  • tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallot or sweet onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped poblano pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 4 cups beef broth reserved from drained meat & beans cooked in Instant Pot
  • cup red wine (recommend inexpensive Chianti)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes cute into ½-inch cubes


Meat and Bean mixture for Instant Pot

  • Measure out 2 cups of mixed dried beans and rinse thoroughly, removing any stones.
    Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. Combine flour, salt, pepper and pumpkin spice in a shallow pan and lightly coat cubed beef. Lightly brown coated beef cubes in olive oil, do not cook fully. Remove from olive oil and add to Instant Pot.
    With the browned beef cubes add rinsed dried beans, beef stock, water, garlic and onion powder, pumpkin pie spice and beef bouillons to the Instant Pot. Set Instant Pot on bean setting for 45 minutes. Full cook time for this part of the recipe will take about an hour.
    When cycle is complete strain the beef stock into a large measuring cup and reserve for chili, set cooked beef and beans aside.

Chili mixture

  • In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, shallots, poblano pepper, bell pepper, and cook until the onions are just caramelized, add tomato paste, hot sauce and garlic. Stir and cook about 3 minutes. Add reserved beef stock, Chianti, chili powder, cumin, oregano, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and boil on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Add the beef and beans from Instant Pot. Cover and cook and additional 10 minutes over medium low heat. Uncover and let the chili cook until it is thick and the liquid is reduced, another 15 minutes.

I have used this Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread recipe from Allrecipes for years.

There are plenty of pairing options for chili, especially if you are craving a red wine to warm you up on a cold day. This chili is more warm spice than hot spice so here you can reach for a tempranillo, malbec or go for that special cabernet sauvignon that you have been wanting to open. If the chili was heavy on the spice it would be better matched with a semi-sweet wine. For this meal I chose The Nerve 2018 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Headturner Wine Co., one of the two new wines from Washington winemaker Holly Turner’s latest project.

The Nerve Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and rustic wine with concentrated flavors of blueberry and black cherry. This stunning Red Mountain wine is the ultimate match for this chili with it’s robust aromas and flavors and unapologetic boldness, this is a prime example of a classic Washington Cabernet.

Another pairing options for this Beefy Sweet Potato Pumpkin Spice Chili could be an Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. Lighter than a Cabernet but still able to go head to head with the sweet and spicy chili flavors.

Spice Tips: Cloves are the strong pungent backbone of the pumpkin pie spice, the boldest sweet, almost hot, of all the spices it is what gives this blend its sensational kick. If you are looking for a wine to go to battle against this powerful spice then look toward Spain, more specifically the Douro and a Tempranillo based wine from Rioja. The red cherry, tobacco and leather notes of a Rioja Tempranillo will help tame the more aggressive flavor of cloves.

I hope that this post gives you some new recipes to try and some new food and wine pairing ideas for the Fall and Winter months ahead. I’d love to hear what wines you pair with any of these recipes, or if you think of another wine that would be a perfect match for pumpkin pie spice.

Cheers Everyone!

Images are ©Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

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