Pairings: Vegetables, Sancerrely

France’s lively and aromatic white also has the lift to pair with spicy dishes.

The influence of vegetable preparations has become pronounced in American cuisine. Even among non-vegetarians, many meals now depend in a greater degree on such things as marinated grilled vegetables, multi-colored pepper salads, roasted onion and pepper combinations, grilled squash, and even more exotic dishes like Maquechoux—a Cajun dish consisting of corn, bell pepper, tomatoes and onions—that’s served as a side dish with fish or fowl. Exotic marinades and the addition of nuts and dried fruit highlight the range of flavors that can be achieved with no meat on the table.

A wide range of wines go with these foods, but one stands out—Sancerre. The French white wine made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape hails from the village of Sancerre in the Loire Valley and is perfectly suited to this type of cuisine.

Some red wines appear as Sancerre in wine shops, but these are not the best the region has to offer. White Sancerre, particularly those made in the villages of Bué, Verdigny and Chavigno, has the acidity to stand up to grilled or roasted food, the aromatics to handle the marinades and the body to avoid being overcome by the sometimes potent flavors of spice in certain vegetable recipes.

Take the simple dish of marinated and grilled peppers. A rainbow of roasted, seeded and skinned peppers is marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and spices. The preparation can be served as an appetizer, as a side dish for grilled chicken, or used as a topping on a homemade pizza, but the wine recommendation remains the same: Sancerre.

Try the accompanying recipe with this appealing wine and see for yourself.

Roasted Vegetables
6 large peppers (a mix of red, yellow and orange)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons of dried
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted pignoli

Roast, seed and skin the peppers, then slice into broad strips. Mix all remaining ingredients, except the pignoli, and then toss vegetables in it. When ready to serve, arrange vegetables on platter, pour some of the marinade over it, and sprinkle with pignoli on top.

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