HOME > Chowhound > Wine >

Discussion

Pairing wine and vegetable main dishes?

Most traditional wine wine pairings seem to be traditionally pair wine to the meat or fish protein. I have promised my better half to cook and eat veggie three times a week. Other than the usual reds with pasta, are there pairing that set up naturally for veggie meals? Pair heavy bodied wine with hearty dishes and light with light?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Obviously, veggies covers a lot of area, from light green salads to smoky charred vegetables, and your wine choice will depend on the intensity and type of the veggie flavor.

    But you're already on target, mostly. Pairing light with light and heavy with heavy is the most basic pairing rule there is: Match intensity.

    What this means in terms of prep is that steamed veggies and lighter salads will take a lighter wine than roasted vegetables (white or red) or grilled vegetables (usually red, but can be white). The cooking method changes the intensity of the veggie flavor (increases its concentration, or deepens or darkens the flavor, like that from charring), which means the food can then pair with a heavier wine.

    It's the total of the dish that determines the intensity: a green salad will take a lighter wine than a composed salad with duck, sauteed mushrooms and pomegranate seeds. Fava beans alone would probably take a white. Fava beans with sauteed ramps, prosciutto and mint would probably take a rose/rosado/rosato or Grenache/Garnacha, maybe even a Beaujolais non-Cru or lighter weight Pinot.

    There are certain reds that pair better with root vegetables -- these are the wines with mid-range flavors. The mid-range in wine is characterized, in part, by caramelized starch flavors that go well with roasted root vegetables and other vegetables. Wines with a full mid-range are Barbera, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Barbera also seems to be the best possible wine, IMO, with cooked tomato sauce. In contrast, Cabernet almost always lacks a mid-range unless a wine is blended into it to correct that.

    Certain wines go very well with mushrooms: Pinot Noir, Sagrantino, Rosso di Montalcino, in particular. More opulent, richer white wines work as well, like Chard with judicious ML, Roussanne, Marsanne, Gavi, Pinot Gris -- wines with weight and viscosity from part ML and some oak treatment. Just to be clear, I am not recommending wines with heavy ML or oak exposure -- they're out of balance.

    Adding olive oil, citrus, Hollandaise, cheese sauce, or any other sauce creates more flavor complexity and intensity. And remember, you often pair to the sauce or to the other ingredients combined with the veggies rather than to the veggie per se.

    1. This is an interesting subject, near and ear to my heart. Many of the wines in my cellar that are "classics" and considered "very food friendly" are NOT anymore for ME...with my daily meal plans and lifestyle changes :)

      I find "traditional" pairing recommendations to not be helpful to me (much at all) -as I rarely eat "traditional" Western Euro-centric foods anymore. It has been an interesting process to discover great, new pairings. It is not as easy as using the same ideas- just minus the meat (unless of course, you just eat broccoli and potatoes... or a green salad for dinner). Because, typically, your dishes will have much more creativity than that, and often- a more specific and wider variety or pronounced "ethnicity" to the meal. So, not specifically in order, here is what I think about for a pairing:

      1. Style of the dish ( formal, informal, bold, light, seasonal, etc). This really matters more in veg dishes because many veg dishes are "one dish" meals, a mix of flavors/layers of flavors in a single dish occur more often, so I pair to the "overall" flavor profile and "feeling" of the dish. Like for simple one dish meals with mixed flavor profiles- I simply pick a wine I like to stand up to the dish, not necessarily to "enhance" it (as you would for a steak dinner).

      2. "Roots" of the dish ( country of origin, ethnic fusion factors and main flavor focus). Many times the cultural root of the dish will not be from a wine centric country. This doesn't matter to me, I am not a slave to authenticity anyway. But, in these cases, I typically go "lighter body" in wine choice (white or red) and look to focus on a "stand out" flavor if there is one, if not then I focus overall on sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami and pungent (as in chili's). Take mushrooms as a focus-for example, if it is an SE Asian, mixed mushroom, dark, chewy noodle, umami, formal meal, side dishes, wine choice would be a heavier body, probably a red. If Vietnamese, informal, one dish Pho, lighter, with same mushrooms, I would go for a lighter body wine, probably a white. The specific red or white wine would be determined by spice level (below).

      3. Spice style level (often determined by sauce & condiments, not by main). A spicy moong daal can be paired with a grassy Sav Blanc when there is a generous sprinkling of cilantro over top and some fresh yogurt, sweet chutney and rice served along side. Fresh, aromatic herbs and spices are one of the more important considerations when choosing wine if you choose cuisines that focus on vegetable quality and freshness.

      Random thoughts:

      I ignore the red/white profile traditions issue for the most part. I eat seasonally, so that translates into more whites in the hotter months with more light, informal meals....the opposite in the winter. You will find your own "natural" pattern emerging if you pay closer attention centering a meal on the beautiful produce in your market.

      I have found that thinking differently about the pairings is more helpful than following old rules and trying to adapt them to meatless meals. You will find alot of information that is operating on old concepts of food styles : )
      For example, to pair "Chinese food" with "Riesling" ( that might be okay if you are eating kung pao chicken from Panda Express) but is almost useless advice today, given the variety of "Chinese" meals, styles, ingredients, etc and the wide variety of wines easily available to everyone. Basic taste issues still apply, but you might have more success with a non -European style meal served with wine if you think more "conceptually" than just focused on matching to the main flavor in the dish.

      I eat alot of vegetable focused Vietnamese, Szechuan, East Indian, Mexican, Thai, and Brazilian foods. I eat vegetarian at least half the week. I drink wine almost every night. I have had a few clashes, but I am improving. I started to improve the most when I threw out old rules and concepts, and focused on those three things I listed. When I make a mistake- I have found that a good Gin and Tonic goes with everything :)

      I hope this helps or gives you some ideas.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sedimental

        Second this. Vegetable main dishes as others have noted (or cuisines form non-wine cultures) do not as easily pair with red wine as say a steak. Vegetables range from imitating the characteristics found in meat (say mushrooms) to something unapologetically green, or astringent or bitter which requires a grassy sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio or sparkling or defaulting to that gin & tonic Sedimental mentioned. Grilling as others have suggested or roasting is a good way to get meaty flavors/smoky flavors and erase some of the green-ness from your vegetables -which makes them easier to pair.

        It's fun to experiment and there are no hard and fast rules. The spicier, bitter or greener the food, the more likely you will have a clash with the wine (mushrooms and root vegetables are decently easy).

        1. re: goldangl95

          Yes, you mentioned Pinot Grigio. I discovered that if I buy a PG with overly banana or pineapple notes, then really chill it cold, it goes really well with Viet spring rolls (with carrots, radish, etc) and peanut or hoisin dipping sauces as well as green papaya salads. This would not be something that you would normally choose for a wine nor would you normally chill it so cold, but it is excellent when paired this way. If you chose the same wine and drank at the appropriate temp without food- you would probably gag! Really fun to experiment.

          Also, to OP, as Chinon00 mentioned, Mediterranean vegetarian dishes (often with eggplant, olive, tomato, garlic) are much easier to pair with standard red wines from the "home" country.

        2. re: sedimental

          Thoughtful response, sedimental. Thank you.

        3. I'd look to regions of Europe where vegetables are a larger part of their diet (i.e.: south of France, southern Italy, etc) and see what they drink. Generally speaking though I'd lean toward red (nothing huge though) when the dishes are heavily seasoned with say garlic, olives, etc and conversely use lighter bodied reds and whites for less seasoned dishes. Also preparation drives things a bit. An oily preparation would call for a "zippier" wine (to cut the grease) while a less generous preparation might call for a rounder wine.

          1. Thanx for all for responses. I find Riesling is a fall back when the meal is green leaf focused, kale, spinach etc but I often don't feel the connection with the food. I also do a lot of roasted root veg that works well with CNP I get a bit wonky when the dish is very herb-centric or with sauces like hollandaise, so these are very helpful ideas. I have a fava bean, ramp, pasta recipe that may work with a Beaujolais i have.

            1. In her excellent book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison devotes some pages to this topic and give some solid advice.

              1. As a lifelong vegetarian, part of the fun is you can throw out the rules. The hard part is, there are no new rules. Going like with like often works well -- green vegetables and grassy white wines, etc. Big smoky zinfandels with deep roasted flavors. Strong pestos and other herb-dominated entrees with flinty dry whites. Etc. Earthy legumes with oaky whites or reds. There are a few vegetables that are problem children -- cabbage can be tough to pair, as can tomatoes. And sweet/spicy curry type dishes are traditionally paired with off-dry or sweet wines, but I usually go with hard cider or beer there.

                If you want something that will usually work, light, somewhat acidic, red wines work with a ton of veggie dishes -- usually the worst that happens is the wine gets lost.

                1 Reply
                1. re: antimony

                  ****usually the worst that happens is the wine gets lost****

                  This is very true. Best to experiment with more inexpensive wines. When it is clearly NOT a match, I make a mental note and either drink it anyway, or default to a G & T (if it is truly unpleasant), and/or save the wine for creating a meal around the next day- or freeze it for cooking with later. Minimizes loss and costs that way while still feeling good and having fun with the process.

                2. Interesting no one's yet mentioned Gruner Veltliner. GV goes so harmoniously with hard to pair veggies like artichokes, fennel and asparagus. True, it's not the heaviest weight white wine, but it doesn't bring out the metallic aspect so many wines do to those veggies. It actually complements them.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    ChefJune, yes, you are right on....but it is a "work horse" ...a fall back.... in other words...really boring!!!!! LOL. No surprises here.

                    There are fabulous pairing combinations that can be found when attempting to elevate your dish, not just "get by" with a wine. That is the challenge and the fun.

                    Personally, I think wino's worry too much about this.If you are worried about having the wine "not show" well, then choose a dish that will compliment your wine. If, you are trying to elevate the *meal* in it's entirety, then pair...pair in a creative "out of the box" way!

                    When I break open the really big guns in my cellar, I don't worry about the food. I keep the food basic and simple. That is easy. The wine is the star. A very different philosophy is required when attempting to pair with healthy, unusual vegetable dishes on a daily basis.

                    I serve GV as a last resort type wine. It adds nothing IME and takes away nothing. But you are correct, it will go with many things that other wines don't, and that is nice when you are short of ideas.

                    1. re: sedimental

                      If that's the way you feel about Gruner Veltliner, I'm guessing you have never had many or any of the great ones. They are much more than a default wine, altho they can serve as one if that's all you're going for.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Yes, you might be right. I only choose wines around 30 bucks or under for everyday drinking. All of the GV I have tried (many) are very nice, but not anything I would consider great. I have never tried an aged GV. I am sure there might be very unusual or more rare bottles that are really fabulous, but I have not had them. "Everyday" GV (to me) is nice but boring.

                  2. I'm an omnivore but my palate (and ok, yes, my life) was forever changed when I last visited the Rioja region of Spain and was served their traditional setas (mushroom) dish with a 2001 Rioja in a loud, mid range restaurant at 11 at night. The dish involves tossing wild mushrooms in egg white, cooking them a la plancha and then serving them with the raw yolk in the middle. The dish is of course vegetarian but richer and earthier than many meat dishes. I can think of few better pairings than the dark, earthy flavors of both the mushrooms and the Rioja coming together.
                    JeremyEG
                    HomeCookLocavore.com

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: sedimental

                        Right?! I can hear the boisterous crowd and almost smell the kitchen!

                    1. just two thoughts:
                      imho, no salad that is vinegar-dresssed should be served with wine.
                      secondly, almost all legumes that are not either peanuts or in curries do better with red

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Perhaps it's just me, but I've never thought the no-wine-with-vinegar-dressing-thing was valid. A vinaigrette is French, after all. I pair to the other ingredients in the salad, not to the dressing. Besides, you can always use the wine you'll be serving as the vinegar component in the dressing.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I've had luck with salad dressing and wine, as if Marie Lorraine says, you match the components in the dressing with the wine. The wine just has to be high in acid to work (a riesling can work well depending on the components).

                          1. re: goldangl95

                            Yes, they can work, but it's so much easier to pair wine if you choose lemon as your acid. Just a thought...

                        2. A big thank-you for this thread and all the contributors. As a longtime vegetarian and wine lover I have often felt like an outlier, relegated (in most of what I've read) to the ubiquitous glass of white. We actually prefer reds most of the time. Thank you for all the thoughtful responses.

                          Although I do appreciate the pairing phenomenon, wine choices often depend on what's available at my price point. I just wish there were more inexpensive but good everyday reds that aren't big dense fruit bombs. Thanks for all the ideas!

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: comestible

                            I just did a really great red wine/veg pairing the other night. It was a cheese and chard ravioli dish with a "rose" sauce, the other dish was a Gorgonzola,walnut pasta, The wine was a Montepulciano *grape* from Abruzzo (not from the town of Montepulciano) . Very soft acidity, round tannins, not expensive, not a fruit bomb. Really nice for a lighter pasta and veg dish (not for a big red sauce tomato bomb dish). I thought it would also pair well with soft and more delicate vegetarian dish with zuc's, summer squash, eggplant, etc. I am certainly going to experiment more with this wine.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              Montepulciano the grape is from Abruzzo, and is the grape used in the making of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

                              OTOH, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a sangiovese wine from the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. The two are not related except that they are both red wines from Italy!

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                Yes, that is exactly what I said. The Montepulciano *grape* from Abruzzo. I was clarifying the difference between the town and the grape :) Perhaps I did not do a good job at that!

                                I think the grape (when used in higher percentage of a mix) and when young, has a very nice softness that pairs well with non meat dishes (and possibly delicate vegetables). I am planning to give it a go and see what happens.

                                I don't have much experience with it (in general) only that I know it is used alot in blends. I had tended to think of it as being "too much" for more subtle foods, but I changed my mind the other night. I hope it wasn't a fluke!

                                This is what I noticed: I was impressed with how this wine went from salad (with vinaigrette).... to bread with oil and balsamic... to a more subtle pasta and veg with such ease. I would have normally picked a much lighter style of wine. It did not stand up as well to the vinaigrette ( a bit of an acidic punch was magnified) but not unpleasant enough to complain about (for me). But, I am not one to do hand wringing over the natural "ebb and flow" of acidity from wine over the entire course of the meal. I just take a bite of bread and continue.

                                I am always on the lookout for nice reds that "go with the flow" for vegetable dishes!

                            2. re: comestible

                              Comestible, I'm curious how familiar you are with cru Beaujolais? There are some really delicious wines from there that are not at all expensive. The flavor profile of Beaujolais makes it one of the most food-friendly (red) wines. I find it goes very well with lots of vegetarian dishes.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Cotes du Rhone, Minervois, Pic Saint Loop to name a few solid reds I drank during and immediately after college (i.e. expensive wine was not in budget)

                              1. Since mid-1996, my husband and I have opted for weeknight, home-cooked vegetarian meals 95% of the time. (Note: We opt for pasta rather infrequently.) I'd +1 to everything maria lorraine and the rest of this thread's respondents mentioned, but I'd like to give a hearty thumbs-up to my favorite "veggie wines" we've enjoyed over those 16 years:

                                1) Cotes du Rhone reds
                                2) Cotes du Rhone roses (many are surprisingly hefty -- check out Domaines Ott)
                                3) Right bank Bordeaux (Merlot's soft tannins are great with mushrooms)
                                4) Bordeaux blanc
                                5) Cru Beaujolais (superb with, again, mushrooms)
                                6) French Pinot Noir (a.k.a. red Burgundy)
                                7) Cabernet Franc (Loire Valley)
                                8) Cortese (a light, lemony white from Piedmont)
                                9) Swiss Dole, if available (a light-bodied hybrid of Pinot Noir and Gamay)
                                10) Muscadet (a zesty Loire Valley white)
                                11) Lighter-bodied Pinotage

                                I could go on indefinitely, but I'll stop here. Don't want to get boring. ;-)

                                Finally, never be afraid to try varietals you haven't yet heard of, or check out pairings you haven't tried so far -- there's infinite fun in the journey of wine. Cheers!

                                1. I have been experimenting all Spring and Summer with inexpensive "off the shelf" young wines (primarily white) with a variety of vegetarian or waaaaay nontraditional foods with wine. I have learned alot.

                                  Meanwhile, my cellar just sits there! So I decided to branch out, uncork my favorites and pair them up- and get heavier (but still be creative) for Fall. Here is what I have learned so far:

                                  1976 Lafite Rothschild with vegetarian chili beans. The Lafite was at it's peak, elegant, smooth and a bit cedarish. Decanted for 30 minutes before I had the first glass by itself (to just enjoy it). By the time dinner was served, it had been open for an hour and was wonderfully round and full. The pinto beans were made with a variety of very mild but complex chilies from my pantry and garden. I made them with water and not stock. I think this made a difference as the beans were "straightforward" and slightly smokey (like the wine!). The beans were earthy, creamy, and complex- but didn't have "so much going on" like a spicy meat based chili. No tomato! It was a fantastic pairing. I would actually do it again. Overall, the experience was woodsy, smokey, smooth and elegant. In this pairing, the food was elevated, not the wine, but the wine showed well with the meal.

                                  1982 Lynch Bages with vegetarian Lentil Carrot Soup and a cheese/fruit/cracker tray. I decanted the LB the same as above and had a glass by itself first. Real garnet red and a bit fruity, lush and a bit smokey. The lentil soup paired well but only because of the carrots ability to balance it out (from being too earthy) and I used vegetable stock. The fruit/cheese/seedy cracker tray was the key to this pairing. We had just been to a "Crush" (AVA wine harvest) and had brought back some apples and a few bunches of grapes we picked from a few vineyards. This lightened the meal enough in balance, so that the fruit in the wine was complimented and the entire meal came together. Without the tray, the earthiness would have killed the elegance of this wine. I will remember this in the future as I serve many different soups in the Fall. In this pairing, both wine and food were elevated and very much created a separate experience.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    sedimental, what vegetables did you use in your stock? Adding some dried mushrooms to it might have made for a better pairing.

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      Do you think? Let me pick your brain on that one.
                                      What would it be about mushrooms that would have balanced it? More depth? Complexity?

                                      I used a boxed "organic" vegetarian stock I had in my pantry (not my own) with decent flavor (yellowish orange in color) , but the soup would have been very "one note" without the carrots. In a non veg version, I would have used beef stock and mushrooms with garlic and served it with a Cab or a sturdy merlot blend. This one was different...more simple, but lentils have a tendency (to me) to taste a bit "dirty"... if you know what I mean. In hindsight, I also could have used more carrot to brighten it up a bit -or some fresh parsley.

                                  2. I will remind all that one matches wine to sauce, not to the meat of the dish.

                                    With veggies, I'd recommend lighter whites - Sauvgnon Blanc, Sauvgnon Blanc, Sauvgnon Blanc, Jurançon sec if you can find it where you are, insipid whites from Spain and Italy.

                                    Ugh!

                                    32 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        Then you're back to basics - red with most meats, white with most fish.

                                        White meats - pork and veal pair well with whites.

                                        Salmon, tuna, and swordfish demand acidic red wines - Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Chianti

                                      2. re: collioure1

                                        >>> . . . insipid whites from Spain and Italy. <<<

                                        Yes, ALL the white wines from Spain and Italy are insipid . . . .NOT.

                                        And there are many vegetarian dishes (which, after all, this thread was about) that I'd *never* pair with a Sauvignon Blanc. This isn't to say you are "wrong" per se, but merely that we each have our own palates, our own individual taste preferences . . .

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          If I had a plate of vegetables, I'd drink Sauvignon Blanc.

                                          And I wouldn't waste my money on Fiano, Greco, Tocai (Friulano), quality Pinot Grigio or Soave, or Albarino. I'd buy an insipid white from Spain or Italy or from where I live!

                                          1. re: collioure1

                                            As I said, "we each have our own palates, our own individual taste preferences . . ." I don't see a reason to argue, debate, or even respond.

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              No problem.

                                              Beyond those I listed I avoid most of the other whites from Spain and Italy. It's just too hot in many parts of these countries to grow white grapes.

                                              Where I live they grow these same grapes. I only take interest in the few wines that contain Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier (the noble white grapes of southern France).

                                              1. re: collioure1

                                                Have you, by chance, had any of the Lopez de Heredia Viño Tondonia white Rioja's?

                                                I find that they stack up to many Rhône whites, both Northern and Southern, and are very food friendly, with the right dish, say a White Truffle Risotta.

                                                They are less "sippers," but come into their own, with the right dishes.

                                                Hunt

                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Rioja white is mainly Viura (Macabeo), quite unlike Rhone whites.

                                                    I don't drink Rioja whites and I avoid their cousins in my province here, and Rhone whites (generally quite different) are not easy to match to food.

                                                    Roussanne/Marsanne/Viognier wines ($$$) from the Rhone valley are ideal with paella and excellent with crustaceans but not with most fish preparations in my experience.

                                                    1. re: collioure1

                                                      Collioure, I'm sorry, but Maria Lorraine is correct (IMHO) when she said, "Yes, I'm seeing broad-stroke dismissals and under-exposure."

                                                      1) Bill mentions the Viña Todonia from Lopez de Heredia is one of the world's GREAT white wines. Period. And is widely acknowledged as such.

                                                      2) As for Viura, I find that, in the Rioja, it produces a very different wine than the Viura (Macabeo) in the Penedes or the Languedoc-Roussillon. Indeed, there are MANY white Riojas that I enjoy regularly.

                                                      3) I have enjoyed any number of white Rhônes with meals -- both traditional French and with cuisines associated with other lands.

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        Thank you. I surely am underexposed to white Rioja.

                                                        As for white Rhones, the Cotes-du-Rhone whites are very versatile as is Condrieu. The Chateauneufs, St Josephs, Hermitages, and Crozes-Hermitages are not in my experience.

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          I now know why I turn my nose up at Macabeu which appears in numerous local whites. I bought a topnotch white blend here last October - Macabeu, Grenache Gris and Roussanne, the Roussanne coming from my wife's son-in-law's vineyards in Baixas..

                                                          Last night I paired it with barely grilled wordfish and Chef June's delicious lemon/caper butter sauce (winner!). Macabeu has green notes of fennel and olive - I detest fennel.

                                                          I have another fine bottle of local white - Grenache Blanc and Gris. After that I'll be looking for good Cotes-du-Rhone blanc and sticking with finer blends of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier, the noble white grapes down here because Chef June's recipe demands white instead of the usual red with swordfish.

                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Hey Bill, I just picked up a bottle of their 1997 white for New Year's dinner and I'm quite looking forward to it!
                                                        JeremyEG
                                                        HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                  2. re: collioure1

                                                    But you suggested Pinot Grigio on another post for pairing w/ Mediterranean appetizers.

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      I did, but if I had more frequent contact with Tocai (Friulano) and therefore confidence in it, I would have recommended that instead. I just don't meet up with these wines any more - except when I vacation in Italy.

                                                      Had a marvelous Fiano (Exultet) in Taormina, Sicily a couple of years ago.

                                                      I like good flavorful food and in my opinion few Italian whites make good companions to such. Many of the delicate whites are probably fine with antipasti, but they don't do anything for me. Neither do most of the whites here in the deep South of France.

                                                      PS You misunderstood me above. I enjoy Fiano, Greco, Tocai (Friulano), quality Pinot Grigio or Soave, and Albarino. I wouldn't waste them on a veggie dinner.

                                                      1. re: collioure1

                                                        Your recommendations sound as if you are underexposed to many great beauties that exist in the wine world. I understand, having lived in France myself, how that might easily be the case. That's why it's odd to hear the hubris in your recommendations.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Ah, but I knew them before I arrived in 2002. And I'm a pretty good student of what works with what.

                                                          NB: I just brought up Malagouzia and Moschofilero, two quite interesting Greek whites.

                                                          But there are a few things I can't seem to touch here on either side of the French/Spanish border - Gruner, Primitivo . . .

                                                          I do get to Calif every year and note the fantastic wines there now.

                                                          PS You didn't like what I said about roast chicken and Chardonnay? I'm not too fond of Chardonnay, save the finer ones. I think it is overused, I'm rather particular about what it goes well with, and Chardonnay is a poor choice with roast chicken. It overwhelms it.

                                                          PPS I used to be introverted. <g>

                                                          1. re: collioure1

                                                            "But there are a few things I can't seem to touch here on either side of the French/Spanish border - Gruner, Primitivo . . ."

                                                            What do you mean "can't seem to touch"?

                                                            Thanks

                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                              They're just not available. Here in this remote province it's hard to find good wines from else where in France.

                                                              1. re: collioure1

                                                                That means that many great wines just do not exist in your regional portfolio.

                                                                I see much the same in the UK, where there ARE great FR wines, and some good ones from both IT and GR, but few, if any, from the US.

                                                                That does not mean that they do not exist, but just that in that market, the good ones are noticeably absent.

                                                                When hosting in the UK, I almost (though not always) go to FR for the wines, but when I host those same board members in the US, will go heavily to US wines, that they will never see in the UK. Usually, their eyes light up, when so exposed. It is all about the "territory," and what is available.

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  Bill, I'm just seeing this post and responding for the first time.

                                                                  You obviously have a magnificent cellar. I don't seek out lots of great wines, just good ones. However, I do have some top local wines I bought with stronger dollars. I am drinking them up now, but I don't prepare lots of dishes that I think demand them. I usually choose a wine that will parallel the cuisine, not dominate it.

                                                                  So, for example, with veal cutlets with lemon and mushrooms, you might choose a big red, and I will have a good Chardonnay (St Aubin) or a medium red.

                                                                  I know your choice is not incorrect, but is mine? Should I be thinking of something like a big Syrah wine with such?

                                                                  1. re: collioure1

                                                                    Well, considering there is no such thing ON PAPER as an "incorrect" choice . . .

                                                                    1. re: collioure1

                                                                      With the veal, and the citric acid, my go-to would likely be that St. Aubin, or maybe a slightly more acetic Meursault. While I might be able to find a red, that would not be my first choice.

                                                                      As for the cellar, I have many good wines, a lot of "fine wines," and then a few (very few) "great wines." OTOH, I am trying to drink that cellar "down," as I have no children to leave it to, and hope to end up with one bottle, that my wife, and my rowdy friends can open, to toast my demise. Maybe a large format bottle?

                                                                      Since I do not "invest" in wine, I get to buy, what I like. That is the good thing about my cellar.

                                                                      Hunt

                                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                                              I actually think this is more of being underexposed to vegetarian or non European cuisines and wine pairing. We are not discussing "a plate of vegetables for dinner" (at least I am not)....and I don't understand the comment about wine being wasted on a veggie dinner, always pair to the sauce (a very meat centric comment), etc.

                                                              Collioure1, did you read this thread? You are making many comments about meat dishes and wine pairing here. This is about finding unique pairings for vegetarian *meals* (not a plate full of vegetables) and about not following traditional meat centric guidelines for these pairings. I don't know that your comments are "wrong" but they seem to miss the point.

                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                You are correct about my lack of exposure to veggie meals. As a foodie of sorts I find vegetarian limiting.

                                                                Surely mushrooms command a number of interesting wines. String beans do not. Artichokes and asparagus require delicate treatment (very wine unfriendly).

                                                                Nevertheless, beyond mushrooms I'm thinking mostly light white.

                                                                However, matching the wine to the sauce and not to the "meat" of the dish is not a meat-centric remark. That applies to all dishes.

                                                                Eggplant Parmesan? Focus on the tomato sauce, not the eggplant.

                                                                PS Hey, that's really cute - sedimental.

                                                                1. re: collioure1

                                                                  My husband and Iove to pair Sangioveses and lighter Chiantis, as well as Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Chinon (hello, Charles Joguet Cabernet Franc) and even German Dornfelder with marinara sauces. Here's why: We've noticed that all of these choices have 1) good acid structure, which is terrific with tomato-based sauces, and 2) notes of fresh tomato. which echoes the flavors in the Parmesan dish.

                                                                  Hope those ideas help you a bit with your entree, collioure. Enjoy your dinner!

                                                                  1. re: Dornfelder

                                                                    A-OK on the above, but I don't know a second thing about German wine, esp reds. I always considered Germany too cold to produce good red wine, but now I know better.

                                                                    Dornfelder, eh? How in the world am I going to find a bottle of that in France? The French hardly recognize German beer. Several wars including a Nazi occupation took their toll, no matter how many French and German towns are twinned.

                                                                    Just found a few listings at Wine Enthusiast. Cultivated in Germany and Calif Central Coast.

                                                                    1. re: collioure1

                                                                      Yes, I'm seeing broad-stroke dismissals and under-exposure.
                                                                      BTW, quite a bit has happened in winemaking and wines since 2002. For one, your palate has changed. So have the wines. Better viticulture and viniculture by far in the last decade.
                                                                      FWIW, no mention by me of Chard and roast chicken.

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Well, yes, my palate has advanced, but I do recognize improved wine-making in many countries (in my province, right across the border (5km) in Spain, in Greece where traveled, in the wines I drink from Argentina, and surely in Calif). . . and I do have well-formed opinions.

                                                                        Thanks to all for the chat today.

                                                                2. re: sedimental

                                                                  My exposure is also limited, but then we do one "starred" Indian restaurant in the UK, that is about 80:20 vegetarian. Their sommelier, whom I have come to trust, relies heavily on Rieslings (both GR and FR), though has other wines, "up his sleeve."

                                                                  Based on his recs., later, when I hosted my UK board at an Indian restaurant, I relied heavily on his suggestions - the ones that worked with his chef's curry dishes, and similar. Those wines were a big hit. When all was said, and done, I think that only one course was paired with a Riesling, but it set the stage.

                                                                  Hunt

                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    I don't think these dishes vary from country to country, and my understanding is that UK restaurants offer excellent Indian cuisine.

                                                                    I'm going to pound the table one more time for Pinot Gris and Gewurz. Dry Riesling works well with Mexican and German Riesling with Chinese, but Riesling is not the ticket with Indo-Pak.

                                                                    BTW the first thing to your table in an Indian restaurant is naan, a cumin-flavored flatbread. Pinot Gris complements this bread perfectly.

                                                                    1. re: collioure1

                                                                      Then our palates differ greatly, as do those of many others. In the end, it is about what one likes, and with which dishes.

                                                                      I do not find PG, or Gwertz to be adequate, with Indian dishes, While I like very good examples of each (really good PG is harder for me to find in the US), I would not pair either with the Indian dishes, that I have been fortunate enough to sample. Still - different strokes.

                                                                      Hunt

                                                    2. I just returned from a outdoor trip with the kids. Several are now vegetarian, so the outdoor grilling was influenced by that!

                                                      I brought 2 aged wines for a fun "blind tasting" and also 2 PN's.

                                                      The PN' were a 1982 Elk Cove and a 2010 Rex Hill. Both went well with mixed veggie grill. These wineries have a similar style.

                                                      Then we blind tasted a beautiful 1978 ch. Margaux Margaux against a 1978 Clos du Val zin and played around with pairing them. Aged Zin is not something everyone is familiar with, but it can be amazing. This was the case with the Clos du Val as they were making it in a "claret style" back then and they have all aged exceptionally well.

                                                      Both were great with anything from the grill. The zin went especially well with eggplant... and brownies! Smoky, dark, woodsy flavors were blended together in the food and wine and really worked. The "zin-ness" was still there and put a smile on your face after each sip.

                                                      The Margaux went especially well with hummus and spiced crackers. Of course, this would be a great wine served with dirt. However, we all thought it held its own against some spice (actually enhanced the spice) and the creamy hummus and several veg/cheese spreads really enhanced the smoothness of this wine. This wine is like silk.

                                                      A great day in the woods with vegetables, wine and family.

                                                       
                                                      1. There's often a good reason not to pair the wine to the protein, even if it's present. I work with a very knowledgable wine guy who taught me to pair the wine with the most assertive flavor on the plate, which may not be the protein: think Thanksgiving dinner (I target the stuffing), steak with chimichurri, grilled pork tenderloin with a spicy fruit condiment.

                                                        So if i have an assertive sauce, or fruit, here's my bible for help with pairing:

                                                        http://www.amazon.com/What-Drink-You-...