Somm Challenge: Top Seven Wine Pairings for Cauliflower Steak
Cauliflower Steak with Artichoke Sauce
Cauliflower is making a comeback as a trendy vegetable. You can eat it cooked or raw, roasted or baked in the oven. In low-carb cuisine, it serves as a healthy substitute for carbohydrates such as rice or pasta.
In this recipe, cauliflower 'steaks' are baked in the oven until slightly crispy outside and soft and juicy inside. They are served with a creamy artichoke sauce and fresh herbs. We asked seven top sommeliers and wine experts for their pairing recommendations.
Pinot Noir 2018, Shelter Winery, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Master of Wine Heidi Mäkinen from Helsinki has twelve years of experience as a sommelière. She recommends a German Pinot Noir to go with the cauliflower steaks.
The multi-layered aromas of the dish require a wine with a good depth of fruitiness. However, the cauliflower itself is delicate in flavour and the yoghurt adds some acidity to the dish, so the wine should be medium-bodied with a balancing acidity. I would choose a wine with relatively rich fruitiness and yet gentle tannins, such as the Spätburgunder from Shelter Winery in Baden. The wine combines savoury elements with its deep fruitiness and the high acidity harmonises with the sour elements of the sauce.
Les Baronnes 2019, Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre, France
For me, the texture and aroma of the artichoke yearn for a floral, vegetal pairing. The thoroughly crisp, fresh acidity also balances the slightly bitter nuances. Henri Bourgeois presents a truly classic representative of the region:a pextacular, linear, refreshing Sauvignon. A great introduction to Loire Sauvignon Blanc.
Assyrtiko Cuvée Evdemon 2016, Argyros Estate, Santorini, Greece
Terry Kandylis is the wine director of Noble Rot in London. After stins at various fine eateries in Greece, he most recently worked as head sommelier at 67 Pall Mall. As a pairing for the cauliflower and artichoke dish, he opts for a white wine from Santorini.
This is an Assyrtiko from Argyros Estate, one of the oldest parcels on the highest part of the island. Fantastic dry extract, with a slightly reductive nose that matches the garlic and earthy notes of artichokes and cauliflower. Salty and precise on the palate, with a zesty and lemony character, it's a Mediterranean breeze in a glass, matching a very Mediterranean dish.
Chardonnay 2019, Thomas Studach, Malans, Grisons, Switzerland
The host and sommelier at the Igniv by Andreas Caminada restaurant in Bad Ragaz, Francesco Benvenuto designed the wine lists of all four Igniv restaurants. He recommends a Chardonnay from Malans to go with the cauliflower dish.
Thomas Studach is an exceptional winemaker - his wines are much sought after. The winery is small with its three hectares and concentrates on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the indigenous variety Completer. On the nose, fine aromas of exotic notes are marked by wood ageing, wonderfully integrated. The palate is powerful and full of intensity, complex and elegant.
Alternative: Matassa Rouge Brutal 2020, Domaine Matassa by Tom Lubbe - Calce, Roussillon, France
Tom Lubbe is a New Zealander who grew up in South Africa. The domaine covers 14 hectares. He was taken on as a trainee by none other than Gérard Gauby. His wines are deliberately declassified as Vin de France. Matassa Rouge Brutal is made from co-fermented Muscat, Garnacha and Syrah with a portion of whole bunch fermentation. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration. Sulfur, which Tom had also used judiciously in the past, has not been added to any of the wines since the 2015 vintage. Aromatic, vibrant, full of finesse even in their youth.
Lores Chardonnay 2017, Johanneshof, Thermenregion, Austria
Hamburg-born Hagen Hoppenstedt is head of beverages and head sommelier at Berlin's KaDeWe department store. He combines a Chardonnay from the Thermenregion with the cauliflower dish.
It is not only because my mother was named Lore that this wine from the Johanneshof Reinisch winery has long been one of my favourite Chardonnays. Perfect for the difficult match of cauliflower and artichoke, it shines here with power, textured nutty aromas, spongecake and creamy fruit notes without dominating. Decant before drinking.
Musar Blanc 2009, Château Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
The head sommelier of the restaurant La Trompette in London, Donald Sinclair Edwards also designed the wine lists at Peckham Bazaar, Temper and St Leonards. He also blogs evocatively on food and wine. With the cauliflower he would serve a white cuvée from Lebanon.
I have a feeling this recipe has its heart in the Levant. Medjool dates, tahini and yoghurt are all elements of Lebanese cuisine. I choose Musar 2009 Blanc as it has enough age to develop some complexity, but still has a lovely freshness that complements the earthy creaminess of the roasted cauliflower.
Bodega Osborne, Palo Cortado, Capuchino VORS, Jerez Spain
Master sommelier Eric Zwiebel, originally from Alsace, is head sommelier at the Summer Lodge Country House Hotel in Dorset, England. He goes for a sherry with the cauliflower steaks.
Although many of the ingredients here are considered so-called 'enemies of wine', this rich and full-bodied Sherry from Bodega Osborne takes them on absolutely well with its oxidative aromas of walnut and caramel.
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