Like geese are drawn southwards for the winter, when the temperature plummets my instinct pulls me into the kitchen to roast a passel of vegetables. And since I’ve given up trying to enjoy any dish without wine, I’ll share my tips for roasted veggie pairings, based on my rules of wine and food.
Look for Common Denominators
In body: Roasting adds richness, so choose a richer wine than the Pinot Grigio and Rosé you served with raw veggies and dip this summer. One option is Pinot Gris from Alsace, France; it’s the same grape as Grigio (both are the grey-skinned Pinot), but with more alcohol and depth due to a warmer climate. Exchange Rosé for a light red, such as Pinot Noir. In general, look for alcohol levels of 12% and up.
In flavor: Roasting caramelizes sugar in veggies such as beets, carrots, onions and red peppers, adding distinctly sweet flavors. Even if a bone-dry wine is your go-to, it will taste bitter against this sweetness. Choose instead a wine with delicate sweetness and/or overt fruitiness, such The Chopping Block's:
- Vouvray, Domaine Pichot, “Le Peu de la Moriette” 2019, Loire Valley, France $22.50 Appealing, off-dry flavors of ripe apples, honey, and brisk acidity make this world-favorite wine a delicious cocktail and complement to light dishes, especially with creamy sauces.
- Pinot Noir, Morgan 2018, Monterey, CA $23.00 Cherries, brown spice and subtle earthiness combine with silky tannin, especially delicious when paired with rich seafood (salmon) and vegetables, grills, Eastern seasonings and lighter meats.
Good news for oaky wine lovers! Roasting adds charry flavors to vegetables, finding a common flavor with oak-matured wine. Be careful that your wine isn’t over-oaked though, or the pairing will taste bitter.
You can almost color-code your roasted veg and wine pairings! Serve green peppers, Brussels sprouts and asparagus with Sauvignon Blanc, often described as having green herb, grass or lime flavors. With red vegetables including red onions, red peppers or beets, serve a red such as Pinot Noir or a French Beaujolais. Yellow, gold and brown-toned vegetables - including mushrooms, corn, acorn squash and potatoes – are often prepared with butter, so serve them with butter-enhancing Chardonnay, especially one from our Golden State. At TCB, we love:
- Chardonnay, Raeburn 2019, Russian River Valley, CA $22.50 Layers of tree fruit, brown spice and vanilla flavors, grown in California’s prime Chardonnay region. Serve as a satisfying cocktail and complement to rich appetizers and seafood, vegetables and even meats, especially prepared with butter.
During our sold-out Hands-On Vegetarian Boot Camp tomorrow, I’ll learn how to prepare Roasted Acorn Squash with Gruyere Cheese which will go great with a glass of Chardonnay. Catch this class again on Sunday, February 27 at 10am at Lincoln Square.
My all-time fave roasted veggie dish is Indian-style roasted cauliflower (called gobi) with its array of seasoning including turmeric, hot peppers and garam masala. If I poured a dry, high-alcohol wine onto my palate after all this heat – Blammo! – my palate would ignite into a 3-alarm blaze! Instead, pair hot-spicy dishes with a low alcohol (13% or under), not-so-dry wines including the Vouvray above.
For details on roasting vegetables and a recipe for Curried Cauliflower Salad, see our Playbook of Healthy Game Day Food, a perfect guide for next month's big football game.
Remember the Biochemistry of Bacchus
“Red wine with red roasted vegetables” can be your new wine and food rule, if you remember red wine’s effect on the palate. Red wine gets red because it’s made with red grape skins. Like the skin of a banana, a lemon or a tree, grape skins contain tannin - the scratchy, astringent sensation of red wine. Tannin binds with fat and protein, so your sip of red wine grabs onto your palate, similar to the effect of high-tannin coffee. To loosen coffee’s tannic grip, add cream. To loosen red wine’s tannic grip, either opt for a low-tannin red (again, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais), or add protein to your roasted vegetables, including cream sauce, cheese (especially high fat blue cheese) and/or a juicy steak! Our favorite wine to serve with roasted vegetables with blue cheese or meat is:
- Syrah, Jeanne Gaillard, Terre de Mandrin 2016, Rhone Valley, France $27.00 A rich, chewy red with earthy complexity to serve with rich poultry, red meats and blue cheese.
Be sure to order this Syrah during Hands-On Steakhouse DIY on Friday, January 21 at 6:30pm at the Merchandise Mart, where your steakhouse side is Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan and Breadcrumbs.
To develop your own rules of pairing wine with food, join me for a mix-and-match of four wines and three tasting courses in a Food and Wine Pairing Demonstration on Friday, February 11 at 6:30pm at the Mart.