How to pair mushrooms and wine

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Autumn is a very generous season. Since September, not to mention the grape harvest, there are already new harvest apples, pears and nutritious vegetables like pumpkin, potatoes, or other lesser-known root vegetables. But mushrooms deserve special attention, because it is a particular product with unique characteristics.
There are many types of mushrooms, from inexpensive champignons, which are artificially grown and do not disappear from store shelves all year round, to rare and valuable ceps. At the same time, mushrooms can be the main element of the dish, a side dish or part of the recipe. Moreover, other components of the recipe, except for mushrooms, can significantly affect the choice of the type of wine. In this article, we will figure out how to choose a drink for different mushrooms depending on the recipe, list some dishes with mushrooms and wines suitable for them. The elite truffle will have its separate article.

Flavor and texture of mushrooms

Different types of mushrooms have a completely different taste, so it is very difficult to find one universal wine that is equally well suited to all varieties of them. In addition, to the taste of mushrooms and its the expressiveness, as well as the texture of the product, should be taken into account. In gastronomy, the following types of mushrooms are most often used:

  • Champignons
  • Chanterelles (there are several varieties, for example, yellow, gray, black)
  • Cep mushrooms
  • Morels
  • White truffle
  • Black truffle

Different types of mushrooms: porcini, real chanterelles, tube-shaped chanterelles

Different types of mushrooms: porcini, true chanterelles, tubular chanterelles… (© AdobeStock neillangan)

Let’s describe their characteristics and the wines that will harmonize with them.

Champignons de Paris

Taste: Raw champignons have a subtle woody, slightly earthy taste. But after treatment with heat, and depending on its type, the relatively neutral taste characteristics of these mushrooms change. The neutral method of processing – boiling – enhances the woody taste and the so-called umami taste. Frying, where, in addition to heat, champignons are supplemented with butter, salt, pepper, sometimes parsley and garlic, gives the product components such as fat content, light nutty and caramel hints and spiciness.
Texture: slightly stretchy, medium resistance
How to choose a wine: In general, champignons are quite wine-friendly, as in their taste there is no bitterness, as in other mushrooms. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the type of cooking, as well as the tastes of other components of the dish (herbs, spices, sauce, possibly meat), which often turn out to be decisive in choosing a drink:

  • Raw or boiled mushrooms need a young white wine with a medium body, round texture, but not too acidic, so as not to overpower the delicate taste of the mushrooms.
  • Roasted champignonswould pair with non-oaked(or short oak-aged) lees-aged white wines to enhance the nutty and creamy flavors of fried mushrooms.
  • Tannic or barrel6ed wines should be avoided, as grape and wood tannins are not friendly with umami. Therefore, if you prefer red wines, then pay attention to young light fruity wines, or to aged ones in which tannins have softened.
  • If champignons are included in the dish as an additional element (for example, boeuf bourguignon, oeuf meurette, kulebyaka, mushroom pie), then when choosing a drink, you should consider the main elements of the recipe.

Examples:

  • For raw mushrooms – sparkling from Champagne, Italian Franciacorta, Cremant from Burgundy or the Loire Valley. Also well suited are round, moderately acidic white wines from the Rhone Valley based on Marsanne and Roussanne (Saint-Peray, Saint-Joseph), Italian Pecorino from Puglia.
  • For white meat in mushroom sauce with mushrooms, for mushrooms pies – Chablis Premiere Cru, Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune, Beaune with a medium body and fresh acidity that balances the fat content of the cream. Spanish white Rioja or French Graves from the Bordeaux region will also be a harmonious addition to such a dish – with enough body so as not to get lost behind the meat and acidity to “lighten” the fat content of the cream.
  • Dish in a red wine-based sauce (boeuf bourguignon, oeuf meurette) – according to the principle of locality, Burgundy communal appellations (Volnay, Santenay, Savigny-lès-Baune), with moderate tannins and a bright berry bouquet, juicy Beaujolais Village – a local combination with oeuf meurette. In addition, Bordeaux wines with a dominant Merlot in the assemblage (Côtes de Castillon, Saint-Emilion, Graves).

Champignons Bruns

Taste: similar to mushrooms (woody and earthy), but more pronounced, even when raw
Texture: slightly denser than regular mushrooms
How to choose a wine: Champignons Bruns are paired with wines of a similar profile to Champignons de Paris. But their aromatics may be more pronounced, and the texture more compact.
Examples: In addition to the previous list of wines, you can add white Pessac-Leognan (to noble white fish in a creamy mushroom sauce, mushroom risotto), white wines from the south of France (Fougères, Corbières, Minervois).

Brown and regular champignons

Champignons de Paris and Champignons Bruns (© AdobeStock Anatoly Repin)

Chanterelles

Taste: delicate, with fruity (especially apricot) and nutty undertones
Texture: medium density, depending on the size and species of chanterelles can be more or less compact
How to choose wine: The main criterion is a special, bright, fruity-nutty taste of chanterelles. I would advise you to choose wine according to the principle of matching the bouquet and expressiveness of tastes. Similar notes are found in moderately aged white wines after several years in the bottle.
Examples:

  • White Viognier from the Rhone Valley (Condrieu) or from Languedoc with strong aromas of stone fruits (apricot, peach), flowers and sufficient but not too high acidity.
  • Chardonnay from a warm New World climate, but not very oaked (examples can be found in Australia – Margaret River, Adelaide Hills).
  • White Beaujolais (Chardonnay).
  • Burgundy Mâcon

Tubular chanterelles

Taste: similar to the taste of chanterelles, but with a smoky and earthy notes
Texture: more elastic and dense than chanterelles, the stem of the mushroom is hollow
Wine Matching Tips: With these less fruity chanterelles, you can move away from traditional white wines and try reds with similar bouquet. Earthy undertones are found in aged Bordeaux, especially Merlot based. But here one should avoid excessive tannins, and choose a cuvée from the right bank.
Examples:

  • Saint Emilion and the satellites – after 7-10 years in bottle.
  • Fronsac – 5-7 years old.
  • Ten-years-old Chinon from the Loire Valley (single variety Cabernet Franc) would also be an interesting option.

Ceps, or Italian porcini

Taste: noble, expressive earthy and hazelnuts. The taste of young porcini mushrooms is delicate, intensifying with age.
Texture: Young porcini mushrooms have a dense fleshy texture that becomes crumbly as the fungus grows
How to choose a wine: You should be guided by the meatiness of these mushrooms and the earthyness in their taste, as well as what ingredients accompany them (meat, fish, seafood, cream …)
Examples:

  • To Bordeaux classics – meat (rare or medium rare), served with fried porcini mushrooms with garlic and parsley – aged Bordeaux with Merlot dominant in the assemblage. You can experiment with an aged Cabernet Sauvignon Medoc from the left bank, if it already has tertiary aromas and velvety delicate tannins.
  • Supertuscany – Italian wines from Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) are similar in style to their French counterparts, but have more ripe fruity rather than non-fruity (floral, herbal) aromas. This is also a good option for meaty porcini mushrooms and juicy meat.
  • Barbaresco, Valpolicella Classico – predominantly fruity bouquet, moderate tannins and good acidity – a food-friendly ensemble, especially with simple recipes like pasta or pizza with porcini mushrooms
  • White wines of the south and center of Italy(Lazio, Greco di Tufo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi).
  • Serious oaked Chardonnays from Burgundy (Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet) or New World (American Carneros).
  • White oaked Bordeaux from Pessac-Léognan Full-bodied and deep, these white wines are perfect for pairing the unique taste of porcini mushrooms. Moreover, this will also be a local combination.

Porcini

Cep mushroom (© AdobeStock vpardi)

Porcini Risotto

Porcini Risotto (© AdobeStock travelbook)

Porcini Pasta (© AdobeStock Piotr Krzeslak)

Morels

Taste: unusual, expressive, but at the same time – subtle, combines notes of hazelnuts and smoked meat
Texture: spongy, elastic
How to choose a wine: You should pay attention to tha balance between the pronounced aromas and flavors of morels and the organoleptic profile of wines, choosing cuvées with medium aromatics and medium-level velvety tannins. In my opinion, morels, on their own or in dishes in dishes, are better suited for white wines with a medium-medium (+) body and an oily texture. This option will not emphasize the bitterness of mushrooms and will not be dominated by their aromatics.
Examples:

  • Fried morels, morel risotto – aromatic white oaked Burgundy (Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet) and Bordeaux (Pessac-Léognan) – this white wines are quite in place here. But since the main element of these dishes is morels, then red wines are also suitable, especially if they have a similar note of smoked meat (red wines of the Rhone Valley – Gigondas, Vaqueyras, red Burgundy – aged Pommard, Nuits St. Georges) or rich, but moderate fruity bouquet (Pinot Noir from American Oregon or New Zealand Marlborough).
  • Morels with asparagus – fragrant and full-bodied Grüner-Veltliner from the eastern part of viticultural Austria (for example, the eastern part of Wachau), Riesling from the Rheingau, Viognier from the northern Rhone Valley – here it is better to choose on not-oaked, expressive fruity white wines due to the presence of asparagus, which is not friendly with red wines due to its bitterness and ability to make red wine tannins unpleasant – dry and bitter. For the same reason, it is better to avoid cask white wines in this combination, which have oak tannins in this case.
  • Chicken in morel sauce and vin jeune de Jura is a classic of French cuisine and combinations with morels. In this case, white wine from the Jura region will be more than appropriate – the same oxidative vin jeune de Jura, which is part of the sauce. This wine is not at the taste of everyone, so in the same region you can find an alternative to it – a slightly oxidative Chardonnay or wine from the local Savagnin variety. Or choose an aged white Pessac-L2ognan, whose bouquet also features oxidative notes of wax, honey, dried flowers and fruits.

Morels (© AdobeStock drakuliren)

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