When it comes to wine pairing, some foods are just plain tricky. Take that artichoke appetizer-thing your wife saw on her favorite vegan blog and is now planning to debut at tonight’s dinner party. Or maybe it’s that asparagus stir-fry that’s got you stumped.

You could go with a Reisling, but why not try something different and pour a Grüner Veltliner? With its high acidity and spicy fragrance, this dry Austrian wine pairs well with certain vegetables that are notoriously hard to match – like the above artichoke and asparagus dishes. With flavors ranging from bright citrus to tropic fruit, honey to lentils, and white pepper to green beans, it’s incredibly versatile and ages wonderfully. Keep an eye out for sparkling varieties as well.

Quirky vegan party fare aside, Grüner Veltliner is also great alongside umami-rich dishes such as such as beef, pork, fish, seaweed, and mushrooms. Try adding a miso glaze or sauce to meats and vegetables or whip up a stir-fry that doesn’t hold back on the soy sauce or sesame oil. Here is a list of more umami-rich foods.

Milder seafood like white fish, vegetable dishes, and complex salads also pair fabulously with Grüner Veltliner.

One great vegetarian recipe to try is this Artichoke Ragout with Saffron and Olives from the Vegetarian Times. Whether enjoyed as a side to a white fish dish, on top of pasta, or served on its own with salad and a hearty load of bread, it makes for a satisfying, flavorful meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups white mushrooms, quartered
  • 18-oz. pkg. frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives

Directions:

  1. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add oil, then onion and garlic. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes, or until garlic turns gold. Stir in saffron and black pepper.
  2. Add bell pepper and wine. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until wine is reduced by half. Add tomatoes, and cook 3 minutes more.
  3. Stir in mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove lid, and cook off any excess moisture, if necessary. Stir in olives, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Some wines to try with this dish: Fritsch Grüner Veltliner Windspiel 2009 or the Grüner Veltliner “Wogenrain” Soellner 2009

Recipe by Laurie Gauguin from Vegetarian Times (March 2010).
Copyright © Vegetarian Times. Reprinted with permission.