WHAT TO DRINK WITH THAT : Gourmet Vegetarian

I ask local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. To welcome in the new year, healthfully, I looked to two of Vancouver’s leading ‘gourmet vegetarian’ restaurants for inspiration.


Our Experts:

jessicabryansJessica Bryans (JB)

National Wine Buyer, The Joey Restaurant Group

Jessica’s passion for wine began almost 10 years ago with an extended stay in Tuscany. Her career in the wine industry began when she returned home, securing a job in a local wine shop and enrolling in a course with the International Sommelier Guild. Following several years with Vancouver based retail giant Everything Wine, Jessica joined The Joey Restaurant Group, where she combines her passions for wine, food and travel as the group’s National Wine Buyer for almost 30 restaurants across Canada and the US. She is also accredited by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

Stuart BrownStuart Brown (SB)

Sales Representative, Trialto Wine Group

Stuart has over 20 years of restaurant and hotel management experience while working at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, The Hotel Grand Pacific, and The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa. He completed the Sommelier Diploma Program in 2006 with The International Sommelier Guild and has been teaching for The Guild since 2009. Stuart holds the title of Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique for the Victoria Bailliage of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and works full time representing the wines of The Trialto Wine Group.

rasoul salehiRasoul Salehi (RS)

Managing Partner (the hands-on kind) of LaStella and Le Vieux Pin

Rasoul began his career in the wine industry as soon as he turned 19 and has quickly accumulated a vast knowledge and understanding of wine and the business of wine. In his quest to acquire more knowledge, he has visited hundreds of vineyards and wineries around the world, and continually takes annual pilgrimages to regions including Napa and Sonoma, the Willamette Valley, Piemonte’s Langhe hills and Germany’s Ahr and Mosel valley. His education includes a Bachelor with in Communications from Simon Fraser University which he completed with honours and an advanced diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). He is a recipient of a scholarship to become a“Certified Spanish Wine educator”, a program offered through the “Society of Wine Educators”. As a passionate wine collector Rasoul now has a collection of over 1000 bottles. Rasoul’s passion and experience help lead the philosophical direction and vision of the winery. Rasoul is also focussed on sharing the wines of LaStella and Le Vieux Pin with the rest of the world as he leads the winery’s international export.

What to DRINK with:

Graze – Phyllo Purse filled with brown beer and miso seasoned French lentils, atop seasonal bean ragout, deconstructed ratatouille, pipernade sauce

JB. I think Frappato would taste great with this dish. These wines are so charming – they tend to be light, fresh and have a distinct sweetness of fruit on the palate that is hard not to love. The tomato, pepper and onion in the piperade sauce would complement the wine’s juicy fruit, adding another dimension of flavour and creating a sweet and savoury combination. The bright acidity in the Frappato will lift the other elements of this dish, like the lentils, ratatouille and bean ragout.

SB. Some earthy, slow cooked flavours bring me to the Rhône valley of France.  One of the wines that reach out to me would be a serious rosé like Tavel; the Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre would contrast the richness and leave your palate ready for more.  If you prefer red, a nicely aged Gigondas or Rasteau from the Cotes du Rhône made with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre would be a wonderful compliment to the flavours and depth of this dish.

RS. Food and wine pairing to me is half science, half art while keeping the spirit of experimentation and having fun alive! My personal approach in pairings is trying to match the weight and textures and overall flavour profile of the dish. I feel a traditionally made Syrah from a cool climate to be a terrific partner for this dish. The oak char that the wine is aged in will complement the toasty malt and caramelized notes of the brown beer sauce and the sweetness of the Miso. The earthy notes of the wine matches that of the lentils while the natural Syrah spice elevates the aromatic profile of this dish. Lastly and most importantly the searing acidity of cool climate Syrah will cleanse the palate and make the second bite taste as exciting as the first!


The Acorn – Hen of the Woods, Maitake mushrooms, Beluga lentils, soft poached egg, cipollini onions, apple butter

JB. Meursault comes to mind immediately, but to make it interesting I think Savennieres would be a fun and delicious pairing. Savennieres is made from Chenin Blanc; these wines are usually dry with high acidity and ultra complex flavours like red apples, honey, mineral, florals and earthiness. This wine’s concentrated apple and honey flavours and mouth-filling texture would balance beautifully with the intensity of flavours and rich texture from the egg, onions and apple butter. The zesty acidity would cut the fat in some of the richer elements on the plate and the earthy undertones would work great with the Maitake mushrooms. If you want a sure bet, go with Meursault or oaked Chardonnay, but if you are feeling adventurous, Savennieres would be my pick!

SB. I must be stuck in France today (not a bad place to be stuck), but the wines that are reaching out to me are from there. With the richness and caramelized flavours of this dish, an aged white Burgundy would be my first stop.  A couple of favourites are Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet – these can be some of the best Chardonnay in the world. They have a lovely hint of nuttiness on the finish as well as the texture, concentration, weight and complexity that would encompass all of the focal points of this dish.  It’s never a mistake when you have good, white Burgundy!

RS. Can you say a classically made Pinot Noir with a few years of bottle age as the perfect match? I can. Yum. An earthy dish that is delicate in flavour intensity yet rich in texture needs a well-made Pinot Noir to tango with. The telltale forest floor notes of a classic Pinot with some bottle age will make the delicate earthy notes of both the maitake mushrooms and beluga lentils come to the foreground while the sappy sweet fruit profile of this noble grape will be a great nod to the cipollino onions. The lithe and ethereal structure of Pinot Noir will not add weight to and already rich dish but rather bring it back to balance in subtle fashion, like a choir singing softly behind a great vocalist.

The Acorn, 3995 Main Street
Vancouver, BC,
604.566.9001, theacornrestaurant.ca


Graze, 3980 Fraser St.,
Vancouver, BC
604.620.8822, grazerestaurant.ca

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.