Wine And Beetroot: Finding The Perfect Balance
One of life’s most divergent vegetables, beetroot is criminally underrated and maybe doesn’t get the attention that its deep purple blush, fascinating history and incredible health benefits deserve. Commonly known as ‘beets’, this rustic root vegetable can be traced way to the ancient Romans, when this gladiatorial grower first became associated with a colossus of nutritional wonder before eventually spreading its roots through northern Europe, sustaining a robust population through war and scarcity.
Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled from a jar. Yet despite its modest demeanour, there is nowhere for beetroot to hide – if it is present in your dish you will know about it. On its own, it makes for a fantastic side dish, but it can be blitzed into soup or smoothies, enjoyed in salads, concealed in curries or even used to enrich the flavour and enhance the colour of your dips.
Such is its divided recognition and notoriety for leaving crimson stains on your fingers, trying to convince people of the merits of beetroot is ironically a far greater challenge than trying to harvest it yourself. However, if like us you seek a perfect accompaniment to the velvety texture and earthy sweetness, it begs an even trickier question – “What wines pair best with beetroot?”
The vibrant colour of beetroot may subconsciously sway your brain towards the red corner, but medium to full-bodied reds are not always the best solution when it comes to root vegetables. Given the texture and inherent sweetness of the beets, we would recommend avoiding a too dry or tannic wine.
A classic white Burgundy can draw out the primal qualities of beets, in particular, the Chablis region with its cool climate and wholesome soil giving their wine a distinctively mineral, stony note.
You won’t go far wrong with a contemporary Riesling which possesses a brightness and delicate balance that makes it delicious with an astonishing range of foods, especially beetroot. Super fresh and perfectly poised with acidity, we suggest experimenting with both dry and sweet versions of this leading German grape variety.
Red wine territory brings us to the sumptuous nature of Pinot Noir – a fantastic accompaniment to earthy vegetarian dishes. It’s light and tangy enough for a vinaigrette, elicits dark flavours reminiscent of the beets, and you can drink it slightly chilled.
However, the reality is that beets are more often than not partnered with other ingredients which naturally influences our wine choice. They work a dream with rare game like duck and pigeon and are a marriage made in heaven with lamb as the sweetness of the meat complements the dominant earthy undertones. A universal classic, Cabernet Sauvignon is a timeless match up to any of these meats – a full fruity red with big, bold notes and strong acidity to tie in with the beetroot’s purple majesty.
Richer and fuller reds also work with the classic modern twist of caramelising beetroot into a mouth-watering risotto where it takes on an even greater sweetness. We love an intense savoury Syrah from the heart of the spectacular Rhône Valley vineyard to bring further delight to this sophisticated and eye-catching dish.
Cheese lovers don’t despair. If you want a lunchtime treat, then try coupling up your beetroot with creamy goats’ cheese – a truly stunning harmony. Red lovers should opt for a light Beaujolais where the exotic spices sing alongside the acidity of the beetroot. On the other side of the palate, a crisp, citrusy white wine such as our Albariño made in tantalising proximity to the Atlantic Ocean is bursting with uplifting scents of lime zest. As well as its piquant acidity, the beautiful bouquet of aromas stand up to the tangy essence of the cheese.
The magic of beetroot is that it treads a very fine line between sweet and savoury – it is at home in a salad as it is in a gateau. Like any great wine and food pairing, it is all about getting the balance right and when you do it is simply irresistible. Trust us, nothing beets it.
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