Morels can change a benign dish into sublime!
Spring has sprung and with the changing of the season comes not only a bounty of fresh food products in our Farmer’s Markets but a movement away from the heavier wines of winter. Let’s, however, get one thing out of the way: no wines seem to pair well with one of Spring’s most famous vegetables, asparagus.
After a long rainy winter, there’s nothing more welcoming than a profusion of wild mushrooms. At the top of my list are morels, a earthy flavor bomb. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is the classical French style: a sautee with shallots, butter and garlic. I serve them along-side a grilled meat such as spring lamb or chicken. An earthy Pinot Noir is a perfect pairing for both proteins, as well as the morels. Try for an aged Pinot versus a younger one…older Pinots have more earthy profiles while the younger ones boast more fruit flavors.
Spring also means an abundance of tender lettuces and also watercress. One of my favorites for this time of year is Julia Child’s recipe for watercress Vichyssoise. The color is definitely in the spring palette and depending upon Spring’s tricky weather, the soup can be served cold or warm. The best wine? Watercress is delicate so I suggest using a matching profile wine. Regardless of what temperature the soup is served, I would head for a Gruner Veltliner or an unoaked, steely Chardonnay.
Fresh green peas and tender green beans are also some of Spring’s edible gems. Either of these would work beautifully in a pasta dish with a light cream sauce. A lighter red wine (such as a Pinot Noir) which cuts through the fat of the cream but does not overwhelm, would pair well, but also a Sauv Blanc or an oaked Chardonnay (which also cuts the fat) would also work with the cream.
Strawberries and Spring are synonymous. A cold strawberry soup is a gorgeous way to begin a Spring meal. The recipe below (from the NY Times) is a delight and pairs with a Gruner or a warm weather Sauv Blanc that has more robust fruit (versus grass) flavors. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012735-strawberry-soup
There’s a theme here. Wines that match with Spring’s bounty are often Pinots, Gruners, Chars, and Sauv Blancs. Next week we’ll take an in depth look at Sauv Blanc.