Shrooms are a fantastic ingredient to work with in the kitchen, from the aromas to the final flavors. It’s a beautiful thing that a food group that tastes of such decadent delicacy is so accessible. Fungi foods are fantastic — but learn how to pair mushrooms and wine, and you’re leveling up.
Winemaking is complicated, but nobody out here is working harder than Mother Earth. And despite that, when you check a wine label’s suggested pairings, all they seem to show are recommendations for meat!
We’re not saying that’s wrong, but when you’ve got a creamy mushroom sauce simmering at medium heat, you need a pairing for that, and you need it now.
Before we start, we want to specify that we’re aiming for wine pairings to go with culinary mushroom dishes rather than pairings for your psilocybin-based shrooms. We’d bet that a lot goes into the marriage too, but let’s save it for another time.
From the outside, wine and food pairings seem like this thing that requires an advanced education in culinary science.
Indeed, there are cases when pairing ascends to an art. Yet it doesn’t have to be, and Wine Enthusiast seems to agree.
When it comes time to match your favorite mushroom recipe with a particular vino, remember that a delicate or medium texture should go with a wine of a similar body and profile. Here are the best wine pairings for eight common types of mushrooms.
Chanterelle mushrooms have a unique taste; in some instances, they’re slightly peppery, and in others, a lighter, mineral fruitiness shines.
That said, chanterelles are grown to be the star of the show, working well in sautés. If cooking a dish based on olive oil or butter, pair them with bolder whites with moderate acidities, like Viognier or Chenin blanc. On the flip side, Shiraz has just the right tannic qualities and a balance of fruit and spice to bring out the forest floor in this mushroom.
Wine tastings are designed to provide you the chance to dive into hidden nuances. On the flip side, a lion’s mane is not a mushroom that conceals its flavor.
Lion’s mane is a common substitute for lobster and crab in vegan dishes, so a good match takes the same direction as with crustaceous seafood. Aim for racy, light whites with tropical fruit profiles.
Maitakes, also known as hen of the woods, are earthy mushrooms. They don’t taste like chicken, but like chanterelles, they have a peppery profile. The flavors of maitake are deep and woodsy, but the shroom body is delicate. As such, go with salty dishes and medium-bodied, crisp, or bright finishes.
As Chef Todd Humphries told Wine Enthusiast, fresh morels have a smoky essence that is good for grilling, which sets them up for pairing alongside vinos that give them lift. White wines like Reisling or Champagne do just that, as does a Pinot noir’s long and smooth finish.
Oyster isn’t just the name for the fruiting body; the mushroom truly does take on a slightly briny flavor, though not as distinct as lion’s mane. Oysters can be cooked in many ways — you’re as liable to find them sautéd with soy sauce as you are roasted with herbs.
For that reason, we think bright, fruity reds go along, as does a dry rosé. Merlot and Zinfandel have the heft to match an oyster mushroom’s texture without overpowering the flavor.
Time and time again, we find our most common use of porcini to be a smooth and silken mushroom risotto, but we’ve been known to use them as fixings atop a steak, too.
The nutty, delicate flavors of porcini go hand in hand with the white pepper, leather, and dark fruit of these Italian reds. Similarly, the more herbaceous accents of a Veltliner are a fine bedfellow.
Now we’ve come to it. If there was ever a mushroom made for red wine, it is the hefty portabello. Even when stuffed with cheese, baked in olive oil, or taking the place of a patty on a sandwich, the intense meatiness of portabello can only be matched by wines with a lot of character. That stands for the whites, too.
The savoriness of portabello aside, few mushrooms are known to pack as much pure umami as shiitakes. We suggest wine pairings that mirror the best notes of this mushroom; a buttery Chardonnay has the unctuous personality to stand alongside the varied levels of shiitake, while a Syrah can complement without stealing the limelight.
In the end, the best pairing you can have is the one that tastes good to you. Sommeliers have their personal preferences, too, after all. So, serve that side dish of chanterelles, work up your wild mushroom ragout, and pour your preferred glass.