Daring Pairing: Artichokes with Wine!

Psycho Wine Killer?

Daring Pairing:  Artichokes with Wine!

Psycho Wine Killer???

Artichokes have been called the “psycho wine killers” of the vegetable kingdom. At least they have been called that by me, and in some cases artichokes can be a tough plate to pair.  Here’s why:  artichoke leaves contain natural tannin, which is actually not bad for wine pairing.  They also contain a rare chemical called cynarin, a type of organic acid.  On some palates, anything eaten after a food that contains cynarin will taste sweet; on others the taste will be bitter.  Either way, we have a challenge.

In Artichokes and Wine, Preparation is Everything

When it comes to wine with artichokes, the trick just might be to tame the wine-killing aspects of the vegetable in the cooking process. Try these tips to tame your artichoke:

  • Serve with a garlicky or spicy sauce such as aioli, which seems to minimize the “sweetness” reaction.
  • Grill the artichokes. It seems to calm the cynarin.
  • Put them in their place:  Serve with tomato-based sauce in a complex dish or ragout.

Wines for Artichokes…If You Dare

Wine will stand a chance with artichokes if you choose very dry wines with high acidity and very little natural bitterness.  Try these ideas:

  • Extra Brut or Brut Champagne, Cava, or Sparkling Wine
  • Prosecco
  • Dry Chenin Blanc such as Vouvray
  • South African Sauvignon Blanc (something about those Grapefruit flavors)
  • High acid Italian white such as Arneis or Cortese (such as Gavi)
  • High acid, fruity Italian Red Wine such as a Barbera or Dolcetto 
  • Dry Rosé…and don’t forget dry Rosé bubbly…the sexiest wine in the world!

    It can work!