More wine and food pairing
The 750 mL wine blog has extended its pairing service, so if you still need help choosing a wine to go with what you plan to serve for Thanksgiving dinner (or for any meal) fill out the form in the link provided. Here's an example of what you'll get back. EL
I love the earthiness of eggplant, and the risotto provides a great slate for just about anything. Depending on the wine, you'll bring out different characteristics in the vegetable, so don't be afraid to experiment. Here are some ideas that I think will work particularly well. ...
You're definitely headed down the right path with your love for cabernet. While most people would consider the varietal too heavy for vegetables, when you think about it, the texture of eggplant is a lot like that of large mushrooms, which go great with cab, and both vegetables have an earthiness that complements that wine. Plus, if you're preparing eggplant like I do, you're salting it heavily to leech out the bitterness before you cook it. That added salt helps you pair it with more aggressive red wines because of the interaction of salt and tannins.
That said, with no meat at all in this dish, I'd still like to be a little more delicate. While the more classic pairing is a fruity pinot noir, I'd suggest you explore the wines of southern and Provencal France, where dishes like this are quite common.
Look for Costieres de Nimes, an often overlooked and very affordable red from the Languedoc region of France. A warm climate produces meaty syrah, grenache, and carignane grapes with great fruitiness that still stay light on their feet. Many of these wines are not unlike more expensive syrah from neighboring Rhone.
You'll find deep blackberry flavors along with a gentle smokiness and, if you're lucky, flavors of black olives. Sometimes, they even taste like eggplant caponata themselves. Season your eggplant liberally with salt and Provencal herbs like thyme, rosemary, lavendar, and oregano.
Occassionally, Nimes will have a fair amount of tannic grip to it, which you don't want here, though I've rarely encountered such wines. If you like wines to be particularly light, then stick to simple and light pinot noirs. Anything labeled Bourgogne, Cote de Nuits, or Cote de Beaune should be under $20 and absolutely perfect with your dish.
For whites, this is a bit of a blank slate, but I prefer something with at least a little richness to go with the risotto. While high-acid wines would do a good job of "cutting" into the creamy rice, I think you really want to complement and highlight that aspect of your dish instead. Turn to chardonnay, yes, but not your typical buttery mess from California.
Instead, I like the delicacy of French-oak-aged wines, which pick up a gentle vanilla flavor alongside the apply taste of chardonnay itself. If you're willing to splurge a little, look for Meursault from the Burgundy region of France. These dynamic wines come off rich without being overpowering and can often be had for about $30. For a similar flavor without the cost, find Macon from southern Burgundy. A bit lighter on its feet, but a steal at $15.
If you want to be a little more adventurous, I'll turn you to Italy, specifically Sardegna and Campania, coastal regions where large smatterings of vegetables are quite popular. Look for Fiano di Avellino, a mild, medium-bodied white reminiscent of pinot grigio without all the acid. Often these wines have notes of orange peel that I'd really like against your dish. Also good and a little more summery would be Vermentino. Northern Italy's not to be missed either, as they produce Gavi, a minerally wine based on the cortese grape that tastes lightly of honeyed handpull lager.
Let me know if you have any questions or need help deciding between particular bottles.
Enjoy your meal!
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