Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ongoing Mushroom and Wine Pairing Experiment, Experiment 3

Grape: Refosco
Mushroom: Shiitake

For this stage of the experiment, I left Puglia and tried a wine from the Friuli region (in the north of Italy, near Venice) made using the Refosco grape: Azienda Agricola Poggiobello's 2003 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. On the mushroom side of things, I used “shiitake” mushrooms (quotes because the mushrooms in no way resembled the shiitake I find in California, yet the farmer calls them shiitake) to make risotto. I chose risotto because I wanted a dish that wasn’t smothered with cheese or any other dairy products that might mask the mushroom flavor and thereby create a better match with the wine, e.g. artificially. The experiment again is to pair wine with mushrooms, which have high levels of umami, a flavor that often makes wine more astringent, bitter, and tannic, and conceals good aromas.


The risotto was wonderful, and the mushrooms filled the kitchen with a scent of honey and wood. They had a very fleshy texture that reminded me of fish, lobster, and chicken all in one. I did use a little butter to finish the risotto, probably a tablespoon, and about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

The wine showed very little change when paired with the mushrooms and certainly no negative change. The wine was so masculine and even that it was like trying to stop a battering ram with mushrooms. I think that the only effects were positive: the strong flavors of black licorice and blackest of the black cherry were subdued slightly. Also, the wine’s finish was enhanced but an even and intense flavor of mushroom. Strangely, the mushrooms drew out the wine’s tannins, resulting in a more dynamic structure.

Because I do not like black licorice, I would not personally buy this wine again. However, the wine itself was respectable and pairs very well with the dish, so I recommend it as a good wine to pair with mushrooms.

Please comment with any questions. Salute!

Other Characteristics of the Wine: Deep nose of black licorice and watermelon. Medium body, which does not correspond with the wine’s overall heft. Flavors of black licorice, very black cherry, and freshly broken fruit, though not jammy.

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