Over the last few years, cauliflower has made a serious comeback in the food and wine world. Many of our favorite recipes have been updated into healthier versions using cauliflower, and we can understand why; it’s versatile, easy to cook with, and delicious. It can be turned into a pizza crust or a pasta replacement. Or you can use it raw as a dipping vessel for your favorite spreads. But this versatile vegetable can pose quite the challenge when it comes to wine pairing. The very things we love about cauliflower — its unique flavor and its versatility — are the very things that make it tricky to pair with wine.
To pair wine with cauliflower requires taking two things into consideration: the way in which the vegetable is prepared, and the other components the veggie is being served with. Follow this cauliflower cheat sheet and you’ll be pairing cauli with wine in no time!
If your cauliflower is…
Oven-roasted cauliflower is one of the most popular (and simple!) ways to serve up this delicious veggie. Simply drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, throw it in the oven, and call it a day. The stone fruit flavors and acidity of a dry Chenin Blanc ideally match the robust flavors of the roasted cauli. If using a curry-type spice, serve with an off-dry Gewurztraminer; the residual sugar in the wine will balance out the heat of the spice.
Puréed cauliflower is ideal for making rich, savory soups. A full-bodied white, such as a Marsanne-Roussanne blend from the Rhone Valley or a varietal Viognier, makes a stellar pairing; the honeyed flavors in these two wines strikingly complement the richness in the soup.
Pan-sautéed cauliflower is generally accompanied with other vegetables, usually Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or turnips. A dry white wine from Bordeaux, which blends Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, pairs perfectly with all veggies involved. The acidity from the Sauvignon Blanc and the richness of the Sémillon complement the hearty flavors of each vegetable.
Raw cauliflower is an amazing addition to salads and green dishes, as well as a perfect dipper for sauces and dressings. Generally speaking, a dry, spicy white, such as an Austrian Gruner Veltliner, will complement the greenish, slightly bitter flavors of the raw vegetable. However, if used in salads with sweet ingredients like raisins or cranberries, a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red, such as a cru Beaujolais, could work wonders.
Whole oven-baked cauliflower is a heavenly delight, especially when stuffed with goat cheese and lemon. Pair this gastronomical treat with a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, specifically from the Loire Valley. The crisp acidity in the wine will cut through the tangy lemon and pungent goat flavors.
Cauliflower au gratin is one of the most delicious side dishes on the planet. Gooey cheese and crunchy bread crumbs? Say no more. This savory delight pairs beautifully with a lightly oaked Chardonnay; the preserved acidity and light richness of the wine complement the cheesy goodness. Look to Australia for some interesting (and affordable!) bottles.
Cauliflower pizza crust is all the rage now. It’s crunchy, delicious, and entirely guilt-free. The wine pairing with this particular version of cauliflower is extremely dependent on how you top the pizza; with a tomato-based sauce and traditional toppings, a medium-bodied Chianti is your go-to. For salty, ricotta-based spreads and toppings, a floral Pinot Gris from Oregon or a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige would make for an equally interesting and successful pairing.