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Dec 11, 2012
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Wine With…Mushroom Stroganoff

Here we are mid-way between the feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that the turkey extravaganza (including, of course, many days of noshing on leftovers) is over, we look forward to the delights of Yuletide roast beef and/or ham dinners, not to mention the hedonistic spread on New Year’s Eve. At this stage in the season of holiday overindulgence we yearn for something simple. Please--no meat, no poultry, not even seafood! What we hunger for is a meal with a vegetable in the starring role. But no humdrum repast will suit us--we still want a dinner with a festive feel to it, something rich and celebratory, and something that will lend itself beautifully to good wine. After all, it is still the holiday season.

To fulfill this longing for an elegant meat-free supper, we came up with Mushroom Stroganoff. Inspired by Beef Stroganoff, a globally popular dish based on a Russian classic, this version substitutes mushrooms for beef, but includes the all-important sour cream. Part of its simplicity lies in the fact that this is a one-dish meal (add a simple green salad and a loaf of good bread if you wish). Dedicated carnivores will be especially content if meaty mushrooms such as Portobellos are featured, but any type of mushroom--or a mix of different varieties--will be just fine.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Serves 2

1 onion
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
12-18 ounces Portobello or other mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
rice or wide pasta such as pappardella, tagliatelle, or egg noodles

Dice the onion and sauté it in two tablespoons of the olive oil. Cut the mushrooms into thin bite-size pieces. When the onions are soft, stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and exude some of their juices (add more oil if necessary). Whisk the flour into the wine and pour it into the mushrooms. Simmer for about 10 minutes; then stir in the sour cream and seasonings and continue simmering for another 10 minutes while you cook the rice or pasta. To serve, spoon the mushrooms over the rice or pasta.

* * *

We were unsure what types of wine would pair best with this dish. It’s rich and creamy, so we though an opulent white might work. At the same time, though, it’s quite earthy, so perhaps just the right sort of match for a hearty red. Well, of the twelve wines we tried, the reds in general outperformed the whites. There were, however, some surprises. Heavy, tannic reds seemed too powerful, light ones too simple, and at least one fairly delicate white proved a great partner. In general, notable acidity seemed necessary so as to counterbalance the dish’s richness, while a supple texture, echoing the creaminess of the stroganoff, was a definitive plus.


Approx. Price


The Divining Rod, Santa Lucia Highlands (California) Chardonnay 2010


A rich but well-balanced Chardonnay, with plenty of autumn fruit flavor and just enough vanilla and spice from oak aging to add intrigue without becoming annoying. This wine worked well with the stroganoff because it complemented the creamy sauce beautifully.

Castello di Gabbiano, Chianti Classico (Italy) “Riserva” 2009

(Imported by TWE Imports)


Earthy, almost dusty, with hints of summer flowers in the bouquet and dark cherry fruit flavors, this wine also echoed the food, only here the mushrooms received extra attention, making the dish as a whole seem heartier than it did otherwise.

Robert Mondavi, Carneros, Napa Valley (California) Pinot Noir 2010


Smooth and silky, without any of the candied sweetness that mars so many Pinot Noirs these days, this wine also exploited the earthy flavors from the mushrooms, making the stroganoff deeper and, yes, meatier, than it tasted on its own.

Tablas Creek, Paso Robles (California) “Patelin de Tablas” 2011


A Rhône-styled red blend, this wine added peppery spice to the match, enhancing the dish through the addition of those flavors while never distracting from the creamy character of the dish.

Robert Weil, Rheingau (Germany) Riesling “Tradition” 2011(Imported by Loosen Brothers)


A surprise, to us at least, this off-dry Riesling was a definite winner as a partner. Its clean, fresh acidity cut through the creaminess of the dish like a knife through butter, making the end result seem significantly lighter. In addition, its apricot-scented fruit added a new, exciting element, one that kept making us reach for another sip. All in all, it made for an unexpected but definitely delicious pairing.