Thursday, March 6, 2008

Many people do not realize how versatile sparkling wine is. While it is great as an aperitif at a special occasion, it can also be paired with all different types of meals and snacks. One fun pairing that is often talked about is potato chips with sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is refreshing and palate cleansing next to salty snack foods. Because sparkling wines come in several different percentages of residual sugar they can go with a variety of different foods. This site: has a nice little chart, although I disagree with the usage of Champagne to describe California wines (don’t get me started, but suffice it to say Champagne is a place, not a type of wine and California is simply not Champagne).
I created a meal of roasted root vegetables, quinoa pilaf and herbed black lentils that I think would go nicely with a brut sparkling wine. So far the only bubbly I was able to confirm is vegan is Moët & Chandon. This can be a bit pricey for an everyday meal, but they do make some lovely Champagnes (yes they are actually located in Champagne). I would recommend this meal with one of their brut wines.

I do not closely adhere to recipes, nor do I measure things, so unfortunately all I can give you are estimations and links to the recipes that inspired me.

For the roasted root vegetables I started by chopping up four small red potatoes, one medium rutabaga and four Jerusalem artichokes. I then melted some Earth balance and oil (a little more than enough to coat) into a pan and I sautéed half an onion and some garlic in that. After that I added the veggies so I could coat them in the fats. I also added Herbs de Province, salt, pepper, and a bit of paprika. When that was all done, I placed them on a baking sheet and cooked them for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the lentils, I placed one cup of lentils with two cups of water (I ended up having to add a bit more) in a small pot. I added powdered mock chicken broth, some onion and garlic powder and salt and pepper. Then I brought it to a boil and simmered it until the lentils had absorbed the water and were soft.

For the Quinoa Pilaf, I sautéed half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic in some oil, I added the quinoa, let it get toasty, then added water, more mock chicken broth, and more of the herbs de province.

The earthy flavors in the vegetables and the lentils play nicely off of the brisk acid in a brut wine. There is a slight sweetness to the rutabaga that gives contrast to a dry Champagne. The root vegetables also take on a slight appley flavor that is matched in many sparkling wines.

I’ll be suggesting some other pairings for sparkling wines and giving you more wineries where you can buy vegan bubbly in future postings.