Just hearing the word “legume” can make one think of O.J. Simpson,
a fate that no respectable foodstuff should have to suffer.
So let’s forget about “The Juice” and talk about the wine –
specifically, which wines make good pairing partners with favas,
chickpeas, lentils, limas, et al.
Why the interest in legumes? Because they’re already common on
restaurant menus and are becoming more so in home cooking. As a group,
they’re among the more versatile sources of protein, and most are
inexpensive, which means you needn’t scrimp on the main course. That said, they’re so filling that they could function as a main course.
Among the more popular, wine-friendly legumes are:
* Gigandes. These white beans are huge and creamy in texture. You’ll most often encounter them in restaurants during the fall, when they’re harvested.
* Baby white limas. If Gigandes are Goliath, then baby white limas are David. They’re flat and very small, and depending on the recipe, take only half as much time to cook as Gigandes.
* Lentils. Is there a more satisfying meal on a cold night than lentil soup?
Because dried legumes can be quite hearty and filling, they should be served with a hearty wine. Color-wise, think: red.
But not just any red. Pinot Noir matches beautifully with any number of dishes, but its silkiness and smoothness are not attributes when it comes to pairing with legumes. The same holds true for those mellow renditions of Merlot.
Instead, opt for a Rhone red from France, or a California wine from a vintner who’s a member of the “Rhone Rangers.” A bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape would be wonderful, as would varietal bottlings of Syrah, Grenache or Mourvedre.
To make the pairings even more sublime, season your legume of choice with just a dash of pepper. And if you are a big pepper fan, add a few more shakes and opt for a bottle of spicy California Zinfandel.