Pair it Up! It’s Mushroom Time

As we move towards winter, it’s probably safe to assume that we’re having heartier meals to keep ourselves warm and cozy. I’m noticing an abundance of wild mushrooms in stores and markets these days, and I automatically think about how I can incorporate them into things like risottos and pastas. Don’t forget, you can always buy the dried versions of wild mushrooms when recipes call for them; they can actually work rather well for soaking up sauces and juices.

This Food & Wine recipe for wild mushroom and red wine risotto works well for a few reasons. The first is that takes only 30 minutes before it’s on the table. The second is that it makes six servings, so you might even have extra for lunch the next day! This is a simpler recipe; it’s not too bogged down with a ton of herbs or other elements, so you’ll want to work with a wine that’s not too intensely-flavoured (which may smother some of the dish’s subtler notes), particularly if you use brighter, aromatic mushrooms like chanterelles or enokis. At the same time, there will be a richness here so keep in mind that you want to have acid to cut through that, yet just enough roundness to cradle all of those flavours. For a white, I’m thinking an unoaked Chardonnay like this $12.95 bargain from East Dell, and if you’re into a red, a lighter Pinot Noir (a style that often carries earthy and mushroom-y flavours) like CedarCreek’s 2011 bottling.

Those who want a rich pasta but are a little more nutrient-conscious might be interested in this Food Network recipe for Pasta with Mushrooms, Herbs & Beet Greens. Those beet greens are chock-full of vitamins C, A and K, along with a good bit of fiber. Coupled with the recipe’s thyme component, they make for a heartier dish that’ll add a good herbal and green component to the mushroom’s silky and earthy side. Perhaps a red with a touch more weight than the light Pinot above, and something from the south Okanagan in British Columbia, an area where you’ll get good fruit intensity along with the odd flavour dusting of the region’s wild sage that grows around the vineyards. Road 13’s 2012 Honest John’s Red has Syrah that will bring a shake of pepper, Merlot for bright juiciness, and a splash of sturdy Cabernet Sauvignon that’ll hold up to those beet greens.

Incidentally, the above recipe says it takes one minute to make. I’m assuming that’s a typo, but if you manage to do it – please send us a video of you making it; that’d be amazing!


Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. He’s not half as fancy/boring as that sounds. He Tweets and Instagrams @KurtisKolt.