Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What wine goes with ... beans?

Lentil patties ISO compatible wine ...
Forget the wisecracks - this is a serious question for would-be vegetarian wine-lovers. Cabernet sauvignon? Beef, of course. Pinot noir? Made for salmon. Sauvignon blanc and shellfish, chardonnay and chicken, zinfandel and grilled meats - what's a vegetarian to do?

Well, there's always slightly fizzy chilled mineral water flavored with a soup├žon of orange or lemon. In fact, that's very refreshing some of the time.

Fortunately, however, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, author of Drink This - a delightful wine guide I'm going to describe on The Neff Review just as soon as I finish reading every word of it - offers wine-pairing suggestions for vegetarians as well as omnivores. Here are some of her ideas:
  • Sauvignon blanc: Vietnamese and Thai salads; pasta or risotto with walnut pesto; roast vegetables; fruit
  • Riesling: Butternut squash risotto; Thai coconut milk curries
  • Cabernet sauvignon: Grilled mushrooms; eggplant and pasta; polenta with parmigiano or reggiano cheese
  • Syrah: Rich, smoky bean stew
  • Chianti: Anything Italian with red tomato sauce; grilled vegetables
  • Pinot noir: 95% of all foods, including truffles, mushrooms, grilled eggplant, grilled fennel, braised chard
As far as I know, there's still no book dedicated to matching wine with vegetarian foods (please correct me if I've missed it). Maybe the book isn't necessary, though - lots of inexpensive wines work well with a variety of vegetarian dishes.

If you like white wines, it's hard to go wrong. Sauvignon blanc and dry or off-dry riesling, for example, work wonderfully with salads, green vegetables, Asian food, summer fruit and vegetables, winter vegetables, pastas with white sauce, risottos ...

Red wines are great with vegetables as long as the wines don't overpower them (some reds can get a bit pushy). Pinot noir works well with most plant-based foods. Red zinfandel is good with foods you'd serve with Coke or beer: pizza, tacos, chili, stuffed potatoes. Chianti and other red Italian wines, unsurprisingly, are made for pasta and tomato sauce.

So what wine goes with beans? Grumdahl recommends syrah (also called shiraz) for bean stew. I recommend  zinfandel (Gnarly Head is good) for vegetarian chili with onions and cheese. The lentil patties pictured above are begging for a glass of pinot noir. Or maybe it's pinot gris they're hankering for. Try both, and let me know!


Ann Kroeker said...

My husband loves getting wine recommendations--I'm passing this along to him.

We just had white bean chili tonight...should have consulted with you first!

Anonymous said...

I am new to wine, even newer to trying to pair wine with the food I eat. There's only a few wines I like so far, so I usually just pick one of those. Riesling is my fav.

Stopping by from The High Calling Book club. I loved your essay in The Spirit of Food -- focused on it in my blog post as part of the High Calling Book Club in fact. Your honesty was moving.