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Vegetarian pairings for heavy reds

I know there have been similar topics before but I’m hoping there might be a few more suggestions around. I happily pair mushroom dishes with pinot noir, quite a few reds go well with pizza or pasta, and of course some cheeses work too. Lighter reds are generally not too hard to pair.

What I’m struggling with is pairing big wines, for instance big Bordeaux blends or similar. I’ve drunk a few good South African reds lately and I find they just tend to overpower the food. A quick trawl on the internet mainly provides aubergine suggestions. Ok, but I’m not crazy about aubergines. Does anybody have any good ideas they’d like to share?

(Yes, I eat quite a bit of fish but don’t have any problem with wine choices. It’s the “meaty” wines that cause trouble!)

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I think @peterm’s spicy bean casserole might be your friend. Pinotage is his regular wine pairing I believe. If you beg nicely he might share the recipe with you :slightly_smiling_face: Also vegetarian haggis? - not just for Burns Night.

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My daughter is vegetarian, so we’ve been experimenting for the last 4 years as to what heavier reds go with Veggie meals. What work for us (with the usual caveat that it’s our personal taste, so may not appeal to you) are things like Veggie Moussaka, Mediterranean stews with lots of vegetables (we frequently use aubergines, but you can replace with mushrooms); brown lentils and/or chickpeas based meals; stuffed cabbage leaves in tomato sauce and we recently experimented with Seitan (awful name!) ‘steaks’, which was a good match. Bean burgers work too.

On the whole, though - these wines always seem more satisfying with meat, unfortunately. There’s always the cheese course, I guess…

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Seitan is the best vegetarian option for chewy proteins, which are what interact so well with tannins in big reds. I make my own and combine with various things - pickled chilli, garlic, ground vegetables/beans etc etc - depending on what I’m trying to make, essentially it’s making a stiff dough from wheat gluten and stock, kneading and steaming, then using that grilled or fried or in a stew… just yesterday I made spicy fennel sausage for a pizza for example…

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I hadn’t heard of Seitan before, not with that spelling anyway, so I’ll have to investigate. Quorn used to make some nice thick burgers that I ate quite often, but their current range isn’t so good in my opinion.

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Also there a few older vegetarian recipes such as Pan Haggerty and Glamorgan Sausages to consider. Pan Haggerty is delicious- it used to be one of my late father’s favourite non-meat dishes. It’s basically potato, cheese and onion but slow cooked into unctuousness.

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I have found mushroom dishes made with a generous proportion of dried Porcini (way cheaper to buy online than in store) will stand up to the beefiest of reds - Bordeaux, Rioja, Rhone, Chianti. Also I make lentil cottage pie and lentil bolognese using green lentils and they will take most wines that I throw at them. Another one would be Inbar’s mushroom wellington that can stand up to a lot. And another that I make regularly is a lovely moist brown nut meat based on a Rose Elliot recipe that again is very robust (my usual Christmas roast in fact).

Oh and I regularly make a Hairy Bikers’ version of Glamorgan sausages though I find them a bit lighter than those others I’ve mentioned.

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When our vegan son goes (/went) to gigs in Camden, he likes to eat here

Lots that you can do with it.

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I’m (nearly) vegetarian and my other half was brought up not eating meat at all (she doesn’t like either aubergine or mushrooms either!), would agree on using lentils as a mince replacement in a cottage pie, or ragu, can take a good full bodied red as long as its full of umami flavours. Changing the spice mix stops it getting dull and can be altered to fit the wine.

Moroccan tagines can be paired with Syrah and Pinotage is a good pair to spice as well. Have had Shiraz with jackfruit burritos and that worked and bean based chilli is good with full spicy new world reds, wouldn’t go for anything too fine.

Nut roast works well with finer French reds, although medium bodied rather than heavy ones (Bordeaux and Burgundy) - its often an option when we want a smarter wine to drink. We even enjoy Cahors and Madiran with nut roast - embrace the tannins!

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Well-aged Madiran goes best with Ceps and purple Garlic on toast (fried in plenty of salted, quality butter). It’s the best pairing I’ve found for it yet.

I’ll also add anything earthy like beetroot and pumpkin in recipes, again provided a dairy element (cheese, butter so not really suitable for vegan) works well - we made pumpkin and sage gnocchi a while ago, and that went perfectly with red (again, plenty of butter and parmesan :smiley:).

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I’ll have to get some of the ingredients to try making seitan unless I just make my own version with what I have in the house and perhaps call it daivil (with a few Welsh ingredients maybe).

I have plenty of beans and lentils but buying dried porcini on line sounds a good idea as they’re pricey. It’s just getting enough flavour into things can be difficult with the power of some wines. Glamorgan sausages and pan haggerty are also new to me. I’ve obviously had a much too sheltered life!

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I think you have to go heavy on the umami flavours for bigger reds, think miso, porcini, aged cheeses even balsamic vinegar. But I am not too bothered by matching wine to food exactly, if there isn’t too much of a clash I tend to drink what I fancy and eat what I fancy. I also think it can be useful to consider ‘peasant’ food of various nationalities and cultures, which is often hearty and ideal for chunky reds and did not have much if any meat in it because it was too expensive.

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I totally agree.

Whilst I agree partially, the amount of flavour available even from a small amount of the non-prime meat or offal is huge. If you roast beef bones and make a stock - just about the cheapest part of the animal - you can obtain a rich, umami-filled stock (colloquially ‘beef tea’) that is very hard to replicate through vegetables alone. You would be likely to fill this with vegetables and some form of carbohydrate for calories, but that tiny amount of animal product is the driver of the flavour.

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One tip if you’ve not used dried porcini before is to put them in a sieve or equivalent and give them a thorough rinsing first; they almost invariably have a lot of grit in them. I actually put the sieve in a large bowl of water and give it a really violent swirl about with hand/plate over the top. However if you’re making say a mushroom and garlic cream sauce it will seriously turbo charge it. I generally get the diced/broken pieces rather than the sliced (again cheaper but just a flavourful) and rely on ‘normal’ mushrooms to give more body to it. I usually use a ratio of about 1:9 porcini to normal.

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Soak them in hot (not boiling) water for 30m to an hour. Then (remove the mushrooms), and use a single ply-layer of kitchen roll in a sieve to strain the liquid through to eliminate the grit, and keep the clean liquid to use in the sauce.

(Don’t forget to put some dry white into the sauce, and if you can, use butter not olive oil, but olive oil is ok, if you prefer it.)

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Can I suggest dried Girolle Mushrooms (Chanterelles) - really good, they have an almost fruity aroma and are fabulous with chicken or pasta. Its a LOT cheaper if you buy larger packs - 100g upwards online - they are very light so you get a fair amount.

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Morrisons, unusually for a supermarket, sell ‘meaty beef bones’ (they look like sections of rib, about 50/50 meat to bone). Given a roasting and an afternoon in the slow cooker and you have fabulously rich stock.

Oops - just noted the thread is vegetarian.

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A few years ago, Sainsbury’s magazine did a Black Bean Shepherd’s pie with parsnip mash topping. This would fit your heavy reds. We pair it like that regularly. Probably still on their website

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Depends what you’re making, they have different flavours.

But what is useful is Frozen mushrooms to add more mix. Use the dried mushrooms and soak liquor as the main flavour base, then add some frozen mushrooms to bulk it out and add some variation. We find Waitrose’s mix the best, because they also include porcini in their mixture.

And speaking about Porcini, you can also get stock cubes (Dadi) of them, they are available online, but probably could be available in any Italian deli shops, to give good intensity to a sauce, or even to add to other sauces, but give a bit of umami flavour, use half or a quarter if you don’t want it to overpower other flavours.

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