It’s the season for truffles and wild mushrooms. Which wines should you choose and avoid to accompany these highly valued treasures? To get the maximum enjoyment from dishes with truffles or wild mushrooms, you will want to make sure you have the right wine to enhance the flavours of the dish and not clash nor disappear.
Both truffles and wild mushrooms are rich in umami, a Japanese term referring to an intensely savoury taste, and as a rule are best suited to wines that have an similar intensity of flavour.There are classic combinations to accompany dishes that have truffles and mushrooms, for example, sparkling wines, especially a very good quality Champagne or Cava with bottle age will have the body, intensity of flavour and acidity to accompany a rice dish with wild mushrooms or black truffles.
Dry Sherry is quite possibly the most versatile of all wines. Fino, dry, salty, slight yeasty and Amontillado, also dry with a flavours of dried fruits and nuts, have the concentration of flavours and savoury character are an ideal choice to accompany dishes with these rich ingredients.
I would also recommend several white wines. A lightly oaked Chardonnay, especially from California or Burgundy, will not be overpowered by a creamy sauce with wild mushrooms or truffles. Marsanne, a white grape from the Rhone in France, as it has a creamy character with a hint of lemon, will blend in with the richness of the dish.
A Godello from Valdeorras has a similar oily sensation but with a higher acidity, most importantly in the right hands this grape can produce white wines with great personality, ideal to accompany truffles and mushrooms.
Another option is a dry Riesling with some bottle age, which gives the wine richer more complex flavours without losing the acidity, especially those from the Rheingau or Nahe regions in Germany.
In terms of red wines, Pinot Noir typically has an earthy, mushroom character, particularly those from Burgundy, Central Otago in New Zealand or Oregon in the USA. A good Pinot develops these flavours with time so best to look for a wine with some bottle age as it will be more expressive. A Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva with a complex texture with mature red cherry flavours, oak, tobacco and earthiness is another wine to add to the list.
One of the great combinations is Barolo from the Piedmont, and truffles. The powerful, rustic style of the Barolo matches the intensity of the flavours of the truffles. Buy a black truffle, shave some over a plate of fresh pasta with olive oil and have it with a Barolo.
What wines do not work well with truffles and mushrooms? It is best to avoid light, floral whites or neutral wines with truffles and mushrooms because they lack the intensive of flavours and will be overwhelmed by the ingredients leaving them tasting flat and more acidic. Likewise, young, full bodied, highly tannic reds will clash with rather than enhance the flavours of the dish.
The key is to select a wine with some bottle age that has developed more mature flavours. There are many options so be adventurous and discover new combinations.