Last week a woman approached me on one of the first very cool evenings of the fall here in Boston. She explained she is a vegetarian who loves a great red wine. She told me all summer she had been drinking white because it was warm enough for it, but in her heart of hearts she really preferred reds. What did I recommend? It is true that white wines and vegetables do go well together. Certainly when fresh greens, vegetables, fruits and berries are at the ready in the summer and great big salads are more often on the menu, this is a natural choice. But white wine and veggies don't always have to be partners in crime. This is especially true this time of year when the weather is starting to turn and you are eager for a taste of red wine to warm you up!
The keys to your fall/winter veggie success? Here's a clue: think about what else happens more naturally when it is colder out and you enjoy to cook...
I'd be surprised if your answer didn't have something to do with turning on the oven and stove again. That's right! Cooking techniques can vary a heck of a lot more in the cooler/colder months because you aren't adverse to inadvertently heating up the house. And where wine is involved, you should remember from my earlier posts how you prepare a dish can drastically alter your ideal beverage options.
Another part of your answer likely has to do with the types of vegetables available to you. Case in point: my conversation with this woman quickly turned to the full-figured "earthy" vegetables available in the market this time of year. She and I started planning menus on the spot, dreaming about an enchilada stuffed with chunks of roasted butternut squash, portabella mushrooms, sweet onion, garlic and spinach and then 'garnished' with a smokey tomato sauce.
What are your red wine pairing options? Many! To start, mushrooms love Tempranillo (Rioja), Zin, Sangiovese (Chianti), Malbec and Merlot. Tomatoes love a great deal of the same wines, perhaps adding Barbera to the mix for fuller-figured entrees or Pinot Noir if your dish is on the lighter side. If you are seasoning your dish with some 'earthy' herbs (e.g. sage, rosemary, & thyme), these wines would do well also. Tending toward the more Holiday feel on a given night and tossing in some nutmeg? You could add Syrah to that initial list of reds, too. You don't have to pair with the main ingredient, but can consider what other flavors will be apparent, too.
Needless to say, if you are a vegetarian and a red wine drinker first, there is no need to feel limited! Simply tweak how you are preparing the dish to complement the wine of your choosing.
Are you a vegetarian, red-wine drinker? How do you cope?