Mushrooms

Jukes Wine And Food Mushrooms

Although mushrooms traditionally form an integral part of a vegetarian diet, I am delighted to forgo my rampant carnivorous tendencies if mushrooms form the backbone of an evening’s cooking. The inbuilt ‘meatiness’ in field mushrooms or the intensity, flavour and texture of wild mushrooms works for me. The mushroom family is a diverse one and you can cook them in every way imaginable, so this is a pretty long entry. When matching wine to mushrooms, ignore the fact that they are fungi and look at the task they are employed to do in the dish. Baked or grilled mushrooms usually retain their essence, moisture and flavour, and cellar temperature reds (i.e. chilled a touch) should allow them to express themselves. Make sure that you choose relaxed, fruit-driven reds with low tannins – simple Grenache blends, Gamay or Pinot Noir, for example. Creamy sauces are always difficult; if you overdo the cream, a robust, oaked Chardonnay or Semillon is needed, but if the cream features only in a supporting, ‘whisked in’ role, then refreshing red grapes such as Merlot, Bonarda and Barbera would be superb. Mushroom omelettes and mushroom tarts are both classic examples of how a mushroom can hold its own in the competitive egg world – here, again, light, fruit-driven reds must be mobilised. Wild mushrooms can be intensely scented, gamey and foresty, so look to my ‘Game’ entry and trade down in terms of muscle (and expenditure). Mushrooms on toast are ever so fashionable again (hoorah) – good news, as there is nothing better for setting up your palate for a Viking-sized main course. This is one of the easiest dishes to make at home and, even if you splash out on fancy bread (Poilâne or better still Hedone) and top shrooms, it is still a dead cheap dish. Wine-wise, look to the main course you are preparing and downsize the wine a touch for your starters. If you are having a double serving as a stand-alone main dish, then try Barbera or Dolcetto from Piemonte in northern Italy, for their truffley, black cherry aromas and flavours. Stuffed mushrooms depend on what they are stuffed with. I know that sounds obvious but cheesy or veggie ones work well with lighter reds. If you lose the cheese, rich whites are in with a shout – medium-sized Chardonnays and Rieslings are ideal. For mushroom risotto see ‘Risotto’.