Vegetables & Wine

What’s a Vegan to Do?

Summer sets off the opening of farmers markets across the nation. Attending a market is something we wait for all winter long. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, preserves, honey, herbs, the list goes on. Once you get home the design for the menu begins. Vegetables are sweetest when fresh picked out of the garden and their flavor is hard to resist.

The hard part is deciding your wine selection. Methaxylpyrazine, is the chemical compound found in wine that resembles a spectrum of vegetal flavors. Grass, weeds, bell pepper can be an unpleasant flavor in many wines as the base for wine is fruit and not vegetable. In wine this flavor spectrum is a notation of poor vineyard practices. Too many leaves, not enough exposure for the fruit to sunlight will hide the natural fruit element in a grape.

The best example is Sauvignon Blanc, grown in New Zealand, the pronounced notes of grass make these wines hard to become confused with anything else and the wines from Marlborough seem exceptionally weedy. This is due to the extreme heat and humidity level during the growing season, and the excessive leaf growth these conditions produce.

Sauvignon blanc, though isn’t the issue here, its making your fresh veggies come alive with a solid wine pairing. One need only remember this; the preparation and sauce or condiment is the bridge to all wine. If you are grilling, a wine that has extended oak age in a toasted barrel may be best. If you are sauteing or oven roasting or steaming, the cooking medium becomes key and the condiments used such as salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, butter, herbs all have a hand in building that bridge to wine.

Experimentation is also key. Everyone has a palate that detects subtle and different nuances in wine. “Best” pairings exist alone in your mouth and the trick is to marry a wines balance,acidity, tannin and strength with that of a vegetable dish.

A good wine aerator also helps in bringing the flavor so make sure to give that a try and get yourself the best wine aerator out there.

This summer, plan a backyard party around the garden. Select wines of varying density for the meal. Sparkling, white, red, rose, sweet and dry. Invite all your friends and let the experiments begin. You may find any number of great veggie and wine pairings that will chase you back to the farmers market for more variety.

Have a great summer in the garden. Cheers!