Pinot Noir and Wild Mushrooms – the Perfect Pair

Pinot Noir and mushrooms were made for each other. The perfect couple, they share an earthy, yet delicate quality. When paired together, they shine. And from all accounts, there is a bumper crop of mushrooms this fall.

Packed with vitamins and minerals, mushrooms are beneficial in so many ways. They are also low-calorie, low-sodium, fat-free and free from cholesterol until you sauté them in butter with a little shallot, garlic and cream for a heavenly sauce to toss with some fettucine.

Wild mushrooms go with the flow. They be grilled, stuffed, sautéed, or roasted. They add a little something to sauces, soups, casseroles, steaks, burgers, pasta dishes, and stews.

Pinot Noir is that finicky red grape that is missing a component in its skin that all other red skinned grapes have. As a result, the finished wine is so much lighter in color than say a Cab, Syrah or Merlot.

But it does make up for it in other ways. Pinot Noir is one of the most wildly fragrant red wines on the planet. And it has an ethereal quality that makes it one of the most expensive wines.

Pinot Noir does not do well everywhere in the world. Where it excels is Burgundy, a cool, foggy region, rich in history and culture.  Once home to the Dukes of Burgundy, the territory stretched across eastern France and into Flanders, where Belgium beers now flourish.

In cooler regions such as its native Burgundy in east central France, Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains and Willamette Valley AVA and New Zealand’s Martinborough and Marlborough areas, it has wonderful acidity that makes it the perfect wine for a wide range of culinary delights.

Other regions of Pinot Noir plantings of note include California’s Santa Rita, Santa Lucia, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria AVAs, Champagne and Alto Adige and Fruili regions in northeast Italy. And a nod to emerging Pinot Noir producers in Chile, Germany (called Spatburgunder), South Africa, Argentina, and Australia.

Here are some mouthwatering dishes and the proper (IMO) Pinot Noir to pair with them.

Truffle popcorn with Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Noirs

This makes movie night special and oh so delicious. To the usual popped corn add half butter and half truffle oil. The aroma alone will make you swoon. Sparkling wines, as I learned years ago at the knee of a sommelier, and potato chips are a perfect match. This match takes salty popcorn and bubbly to a higher level.

Sausage stuffed mushrooms with Karma Vineyards Blanc de Noir

What better way to begin than mushrooms stuffed with pork sausage, thyme and orange zest and paired with this sparkling wine from the Lake Chelan AVA. The balance of red fruits, creamy texture and small bubbles is impressive.

Roasted pork tenderloin and chanterelles with Ken Wright 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

With this dish, I would like to revisit this wonderful wine from a friend’s cellar. From 3 of their 13 vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley, this four-year old bottle of elegance demonstrates Pinot Noir’s ethereal aromas, balanced fruit and earth notes and smooth tannins.

Oyster mushroom risotto with Knudsen Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir

Silky oyster mushrooms with a hint of herb pairs well with this classic Dundee Hills blend of two estate vineyards, one over 20-years old the other planted in 2012 to the Dijon clone. The cherry, earthy aromas and flavors have notes of baking spices and a silky finish.

Duck breast with mushrooms, caramelized onions and Chehalem Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir

Mushrooms with a spicy, earthy flavor, sweet caramelized onions and a sautéed duck breast pairs very nicely with this mountain grown wine of remarkable balance. The red fruits, spice, silky tannins and a crisp finish compliment this dish to the max.

Roast chicken and matsutakes with Lemelson Vineyards Willamette Valley Jerome Reserve Pinot Noir

Matsutake is Japanese for “pine mushroom.” It grows most abundantly in the pine forest of Washington and is highly prized in Japanese cuisine. But here, it’s paired with the American by way of France classic – roast chicken. This mushroom is a fragrant spice bomb with a touch of earth perfect with a roasted chicken and Lemelson’s aromatic Pinot. Sourced from several sustainably farmed Willamette Valley vineyards, this wine shows elegant berry and earthy tones and a long, silky finish.

If foraging for mushrooms is on your list of things to do, the Kitsap Mycological Society is a local non-profit organization that can help beginners. These folks study, collect and cook up mushrooms in the forests of the Kitsap Peninsula and other forests in Washington. They have several opportunities where they share their mushroom knowledge with the community. Check them out at https://kitsapmushrooms.org/

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