Hello, and howdy from the veggie garden!

Last week, I was asked by Maureen (our marketing director extraordinaire) to write a little about pairing wine with vegetarian cuisine for Vino Visit, our website that books our really cool brand new private tastings.

I misunderstood, however, and thought I was supposed to talk about wine and Vulcan cuisine. I was deep into Vulcan food and wine lore when reason exposed my fallacy. At the same time, I realized a Tyrannosaurus Rex was more qualified to write about pairing wine for vegetarians than I was.

The only time I talk about vegetarian wine pairings is when I when I have to backpedal after making a steak pairing and sub a Portobello mushroom for a tenderloin. Aye caramba, I’m in trouble. It’s time for research…

Whew, after many exhausting hours in the library, guess what I learned? I learned the pretty obvious: the same guidelines that apply to pairing wine with a meat protein also apply to a dish without a meat protein.

First, let’s check out what types of wine pair well with food. We want a white wine with crisp acidity, and a red wine with smooth tannins. It should be dry or slightly sweet, with low to moderate alcohol, maybe 11-13% by volume. We also want somewhat subdued flavors, ruling out many of the high alcohol fruit bombs from California. Texas wines, especially Grape Creeks, are very food friendly.

The most important guideline in pairings is to match the body and texture of the wine with the body and texture of the food. We want lighter wines with lighter foods (whites with fresh vegetables and salads, for example) and heavier wines with heavier foods (reds with roasted or grilled vegetables). We never want one to overpower the other.

Keep in mind, however, it’s not just the food itself, but also its method of preparation that we must consider. Pasta, for example, is medium textured and fairly neutral in flavor. Pasta functions in a dish as a foil to showcase something else.

Let’s begin with a spicy gazpacho pasta salad. Spicy foods do well with slightly sweet, very fruity wines. A crisp and fruity rose’, especially our new Grape Creek Ramato, would be a great match.

Next, we’ll elevate the texture and sauté fresh veggies in garlic, butter, white wine, and fresh herbs; all tossed with linguine. The buttery sauce is going to coat our palate with fat. A full-bodied dry white, floral and high in acid like our Viogner, would be excellent.

Finally, let’s create even more body and texture with a fettuccine Alfredo with wild mushrooms. We’ve raised the bar by adding Pecorino Romano cheese, heavy cream, a little Cognac, and earthiness from the mushrooms. Here, a light bodied red with good acidity and soft tannins, such as our GCV Rendezvous, would be outstanding.

So, it’s really pretty simple, and simple is the best approach. In reality, most wines do well with most foods. If we drink a wine we like, that matches the texture of the food, we should be in good shape.

Also, in the next week or two, some exciting new GCV wine to talk about…