Reds Fit For Veggie Fare

October 12, 2013

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Autumn veggies can handle weightier wines

Upon putting together a pairing flight for a roasted vegetable dish at the wine bar last week I discovered a commonly held belief among wine-drinkers: that wine and vegetables don’t mix – but if they must, then it’s got to be a light-bodied White.

My guess is that this stems from the notion that veggies are delicate and therefore can’t handle a robust wine. But, as with all food and wine marriages, the type of vegetable, how you cook it, and what you add to it makes all the difference and suddenly opens up all sorts of pairing possibilities.

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Roast veggies for maximum flavour

  • Firstly, autumn vegetables like beetroot, parsnips, turnip tend to be heartier than Spring or Summer ones (think, asparagus, artichokes).
  • Secondly, roasting or caramelizing vegetables (as opposed to say, boiling or steaming) intensifies flavour, texture and sugars.
  • Thirdly, adding fat, protein and grains to the dish – for example, in the form of cheese, nuts or barley – adds substance and weight.

Once you turn up flavour, add protein and fat, you’ve got yourself something that can quite easily take on and tame a tannic Red or woody White.

That said, this is still not grilled-steak territory, so when picking a veggie-friendly wine, I would avoid full-on, punchy Reds and veer toward something subtler: think, fruity with mild-moderate tannins, low alcohol and good acidity. For example: Rosé, Beaujolais, Chianti Classico.