Grapevine: Make room for mushroom

KATHRYN McWHIRTER ON WINES TO DRINK WITH MUSHROOMS

IT HAD just started: the season of mists and mushrooms, and terrible temptation. In the Bordeaux market, even along the country roadsides, vendors had laid out their cepes, the wonderful, fat, fragrant and juicy autumn mushrooms, and French families staggered off with large trayfuls. So did we, at great expense. They survived the flight home and we spent hours picking out the wrigglies. We resolved, as we fried and froze the perforated remains, never again to buy a whole tray.

The brave and lucky might find cepes (Boletus edulis) in British woods - big, dark-capped, with a spongy underside. They are also quite easy to find commercially, not fresh, but sliced and dried (maybe labelled porcini). And, unlike most mushrooms, they go quite well with a number of wines.

None of the common mushrooms on sale in British supermarkets is the thing to buy if you want to show a wine off at its best, especially a red wine. Mushrooms - even cepes - make most red wines taste far more bitterly tannic than they are. That may not matter if the mushrooms are a minor ingredient in a dish, but a heap of mushrooms will do your red wine no favours. Unoaked white wines don't clash, but most will taste too brightly fruity to be a real match for mushrooms, and too tangily acid, unless the dish has some added acidity such as lemon juice or cooking wine.

Common field mushrooms went positively well with no wines in my experiments. (The same goes for mushroom soup). Common mushrooms are particularly prone to emphasise tannin in red wines. So are oyster mushrooms (both grey and yellow varieties), sold now by many supermarkets. Shitake mushrooms, also commercially farmed in Britain, are another matter. Their strong garlic flavour goes wonderfully with the northern Italian white wine Lugana, and nearly as well with simple, dry German Riesling.

It is less easy to find fresh morels in Britain, but they are around at this time of year. Most wines swamp their delicate flavour, but very light, gentle, untannic Pinot Noir hits the spot. Chanterelles are yummier, and good with Chablis.

Cepes, however, chime in with a variety of red wine flavours, provided they are low in tannin. One flavour that goes especially well with cepes is the Tempranillo grape of Spain. Mature ones are best, labelled 'Reserva' or 'Gran Reserva', from Valdepenas, Navarro, Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Pinot Noir is just as good. Mature Cahors or claret, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Italian Ciro or Nebbiolo (if you can find mature, untannic ones) all go well with cepes, too. Only Chablis stars amongst whites, but the mushrooms will probably need a squirt of lemon juice to match its acidity.

Fungus-friendly wines... For a mature Tempranillo, try the complex 1985 Campillo Rioja Gran Reserva (pounds 9.95 Waitrose) - a wine to drink now rather than keep. The 1986 vintage, just arriving in some stores, is also delicious. The northern supermarket chain of Morrisons is often a good source of delicious old Romanian Pinot Noir. Try its lovely 1990 Romanian Pinot Noir Reserve (a real snip at pounds 3.45). 1995 Young Vatted Pinot Noir, Dealul Mare, Romania (pounds 2.89 Kwik Save) isn't mature, but it's light, soft and attractive. Gentle Merlots are easy to find. All the following are delicious, soft and fruity: 1995 La Langue Merlot, Delta Domaines, Vin de Pays d'Oc (pounds 3.99 Victoria Wine Cellars and shops), Chilean 1995 Merlot, Errazuriz Estate (pounds 4.99 Berkeley Wines and Wine Cellar), Hungarian 1994 Merlot River Route (pounds 3.79 Berkeley Wines and Wine Cellar), or the organic 1995 Domaine de Picheral Merlot, Vin de Pays d'Oc (pounds 3.99 Safeway). For Chablis, the simple 1994 Chablis - not the Petit Chablis - (pounds 7.99 Marks & Spencer) is good. Enotria Winecellars of London SWI8 have a superb, soft, but intense 1995 Lugana Vigna Brolettino (pounds 9.95), which has just arrived on the shelves, or the 1994 Devil's Root Riesling (pounds 3.69 Sainsbury's) from Germany is a good, cheaper option.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders