Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Vegetarian Food, Wine Matching and the "d'Arry's Cambridge" Case
To me, wine is part of the meal and matching it with suitable food is key to getting the best out of it; I involuntarily wince internally watching people drink red wine with salty crisps or chocolate, as both salt and sweetness are inimical to the tannins in a red wine.
When I think of matches for wines, it is usually in terms of suitable meats as, to me, the meat is the centrepiece of a dish, the wine its partner and the vegetables an add-on on the side.
However, I have been pulled up a number of times recently by non-meat-eaters asking for vegetarian food matches.
At the second of my d'Arry's tasting events of d'Arenberg wines yesterday, I resisted the temptation to quote Homer Simpson ("If God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat") and instead used the presence of a group of vegetarians to think about suitable vegetarian food matches for the six wines presented.
And as a general point, I have never quite understood the red-wine-and-cheese idea as fatty, salty foods like cheese need high acidity and low tannins which generally steers you away from reds and onto whites.
On the nose and palate, like the Riesling blend, it does not score highly for primary fruit, making it a partner to the food rather than the centre of attention in its own right.
Also like the Riesling blend, it has the body and acidity to stand up to and cut through the cheese.
It had a soft, inky texture, some vanilla sweetness and ripe tannins giving a firm-but-gentle grip.
For me, the classic match for this wine would be a roast joint of lamb with garlic and rosemary but, as that was not an option, we kicked around ideas for a while before coming up with crostini, rubbed with garlic, salted and then drizzled liberally with olive oil.
Ruling out vegetables alone as having too much sweetness, we eventually came up with the idea of a nut roast served with spiced red wine and onion gravy.
Personally, I would go for roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes with a wine like this, but if that's not an option for whatever reason, the the nut roast is as good a bet as any.
As an ex-vegetarian -,and even vegan - myself, I'll limit my thoughts on vegetarianism these days simply to saying that I firmly believe that any principled issues can be addressed by eating locally-sourced, free-range, compassionately-slaughtered meat and that this type of meat is more morally acceptable than, say, industrially-produced cow's milk.
But, for all that, we remain at the top of the food chain and if God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he invent wines that match so well with meat.
D'Arry's - http://www.darrys.co.uk/
d'Arenberg - http://www.darenberg.com.au/