Many food and wine pairings evolved by accident, according to foods local to the regions in which wine is produced, but the concept of matching food with wine can also be attributed to ‘mouthfeel’. A study published by Current Biology demonstrated that that the acidity of wine pairs with fatty foods because the two fall on opposite ends of the sensory spectrum. When we combine them in the mouth, a pleasurable balance is created, with the acidity counteracting the fat. With fat in abundant supply in animal products, many food and wine pairings relate to meat and cheese, but with an increasing number of people opting for vegetarian and vegan cuisine, how can we create the ideal mouthfeel at the fall dinner table without using animal products?
Mushrooms For A Meaty Mouthfeel
Mushrooms are grown all year round in Canada, which is good news for a vegan menu. Mushrooms mimic some of the mouthfeel of meat, and carry a distinct umami flavour that pairs well with a rich red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir, which will pick up the earthy flavours of mushrooms. Despite being perpetually seasonal, mushrooms have an autumnal feel, and can provide the comforting, warming effect we tend to seek as the days draw in. A versatile vegan side dish of quinoa, shiitake mushrooms and ginger can be served with fresh seasonal vegetables and vegan sausages or grilled tofu, perfectly paired with a Pinot Noir: the earthy notes of the wine will enhance the mushrooms, while its acidity will highlight the garlic and cut through the fat of the tofu or sausages, mimicking the mouthfeel achieved when pairing a bold red wine with a steak.
To make the shiitake dish for a party of four, simmer 1 cup rinsed GoGo Quinoa organic red quinoa in 1.5 cups of vegetable stock seasoned with a little salt for 12-15 minutes. Place a lid on the pan, and turn off the heat, allowing the quinoa to steam until fully cooked. Meanwhile, sauté 1 minced shallot with a teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger and two crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil until soft. Add half a cup of sliced shiitake mushrooms and continue to sauté for another three minutes. Stir in the cooked quinoa and season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to taste.
Go Nuts For Fat
Nuts are a good year-round option for a vegan-friendly dinner party. Their fatty profiles will pair well with the astringent qualities of the wine to reach the perfect mouthfeel. Consider a quinoa-based nut roast to serve with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and pair with a crisp Chardonnay, which will cut through the fat in the nuts. Plant-based, seasonal salads and stews can be topped with roasted nuts to give both crunch and fat to a dish, which will pair well with an aromatic white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc.
However, if nuts aren’t the main feature of the dish, be mindful of the flavour profiles of the other ingredients: if you’re preparing a bean-heavy stew, for example, a medium bodied red like Grenache might be a better option, particularly if you’re using pimentón, which can bring out the smoky, spicy notes in the wine. Bear in mind that distinct flavour profiles complement each other, so if you’re considering a spicy Thai dish like our Sesame Ginger Quinoa Slaw, a wine with a little sweetness, such as Riesling, would be a good direction to head in. Thai is a good option for a vegan wine pairing, as it is often nut-heavy, providing the fatty element necessary for the ideal mouthfeel. Harness the inherent, nutty flavour of quinoa when considering nut dishes, too, for a fully-rounded, satisfying taste.
Simply paying attention to the flavour profile of different wines and using them to enhance seasonal vegan dishes will be enough for a satisfying fall dinner party pairing, but to really harness the power of mouthfeel in the enjoyment of both food and wine, consider ingredients high in fat and protein, which will mimic the traditional, satisfying balances achieved through pairing wine with meat or cheese. Santé!
Written by Ali Rennoll.