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Vegan dishes and cabernet

What's your favorite vegan entree with cabernet sauvignon? Sorry, it's a question always needing an answer here in California.

— Terry Hall, Calistoga, Calif.

What a great question, Terry. Given your gastronomic background — you were a spokesman for Napa Valley Vintners before taking the helm of TH-ink, a communication and brand marketing company based in St. Helena, Calif. — I'm sure you have come up with some good wine pairings for vegan dishes.

My first thought is to make sure whatever wine you serve is not objectionable from a vegan's point of view. Animal products are sometimes used in making wines, notably in the fining or filtering of the wine; ask your wine seller to be sure your bottle is OK.

I then thought I'd ask some wine pros for their ideas on what to serve with that vegan-friendly cab.

Belinda Chang, beverage director for Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group, a New York City-based restaurant management company, goes with farro made risotto-style. To make the dish "super cabernet friendly," cook the grain with cab, she writes in an email.

Chang used morels, porcini mushrooms and white asparagus for her spring version of the dish. For summer, she's "drooling" over English peas and tomatoes.

Claudia Perry, an Evanston-based freelance writer and wine blogger, says rich Napa-style cabernet sauvignon goes best with hearty, fatty foods. "More delicate assemblages are not what you're looking for," she writes in an email.

Perry likes a dish from Anupy Singla's book, "The Indian Slow Cooker." It's a mock keema or spiced crumbles with peas, and it calls for meatless, soy-free grounds, which are like a meatless ground meat, such as those made by Boca, Quorn or Morningstar Farms brands.

"It's perhaps overdone, but I am a big fan of eggplant dishes with big cabernet," admits Evan Goldstein, a master sommelier, author and president of Full Circle Wine Solutions, a wine and spirits education company in San Carlos, Calif. The bitterness of the eggplant mitigates the tannins of the wine, he adds in an email.

Although Goldstein likes some cheese or protein with the eggplant, as in lasagna or moussaka, he says you can always use eggplant to make grilled vegetable brochettes, along with peppers, mushrooms and onions.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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