Regular readers will know I’m no vegetarian but I’m happy to have meatless and fishless dishes, provided they are tasty and, even better, if they’re wine-friendly. There are no special guidelines for pairing wine with veggie dishes – just think the same way as you would with any meal: how robust or delicate is the food (the chunkier the food flavours, the more powerful the wine can be) and what is the strongest flavour on the plate (this may not be the main ingredient).
We cooked a dish from an Antony Worrall Thompson cookbook that was a kind of spicy cauliflower cheese although it also contained spinach – a tricky ingredient that can give some red wines an unpleasant metallic taste. But that wasn’t a problem here as the cauliflower was coated in a lovely creamy cheesy sauce that provided the dominant flavour and that just cried out for a white wine; quite a full, rich white, though, as with the cauliflower and some borlotti beans in the dish, too, this was definitely not on the delicate side.
Yves Cuilleron’s Marsanne is from the northern part of France’s Rhone Valley and is made from one of the local grape varieties. It fitted the bill perfectly. The label suggests some barrel ageing, but there was no overt oak flavouring, just a satisfying, mouth-filling, buttery richness to complement the lovely peach and pear aromas and flavours. Our bottle was from the 2016 vintage which seems to be sold out now but Bristol independent wine merchant Davis, Bell, McCraith have the 2019 at £14.99. Based on our experience, I’d recommend keeping the younger wine a couple of years or so – this is a bottle that will definitely improve a little with age.
Finally, as this is a piece talking about vegetarian food, I should remind readers that some producers use egg whites and other animal-based substances to fine (clarify) their wines and, although there is no residue left in the bottle, strict vegetarians may object and, if so, they should check either the label or the website to see if any particular wine is suitable for them.