How To Pair Wine With Vegetable-Forward Dishes

What on earth do you pair with grilled zucchini? As cuisine becomes more vegetable-forward, top chefs and sommeliers are asking that very question.

By Ted Loos 08/05/2023

Within our dining culture, we have evolved our habits to drink big red wines with meat. Hearty, juicy, red meat. Satisfying bottlings made from grapes such as cabernet sauvignon and syrah are flattered by a steak or a lamb chop—and, of course, they make the food look good, too. It’s a mutual admiration society.’

Just pick up any bottle of, say, a Rhône-style blend from Paso Robles. Somewhere on the back it will recommend pairing with lamb or beef. We also welcome “big wines”—meaning ones with copious amounts of tannin and alcohol—onto our tables partly because we think, “Oh, eating meat while we drink will neutralise those drawbacks.”

But as high-end cuisine veers away from meat, how do we shift the way we match food with those big reds we’ve come to love? After all, it’s not just an issue for vegetarians: many of us are putting vegetables at the centre of our plates more and more, for reasons from our health to the environment. And as Laura Fiorvanti, the owner of New York’s wine-centric Corkbuzz restaurants, puts it, “vegetables are, on their own, the hardest thing to pair with wine.”

It was a lesson on display some time back, when I had two multicourse dinners at the famed Michelin three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Two weeks apart, the meals came just after The New York Times panned the newly vegan cuisine at the restaurant, in a review that the food world was talking about for months; even the cringey headline said that renowned chef Daniel Humm “does strange things to vegetables”, making it sound more like a police report than a culinary critique.

I liked the food more than Times critic Pete Wells did—even the dehydrated, then rehydrated beet that set Twitter ablaze. But something else was giving me pause: the interplay of the new-fangled food and the terrific red wines I drank.

At the first dinner, each course was paired with bottles from Vérité, the joint project of California wine baron Jess Jackson and Bordeaux’s Pierre Seillan, now in its 25th year, that ranks as a maker of some of Sonoma’s most expensive, and tastiest, reds. A few months earlier I had praised them for their plush texture, but it was not helpful to sip them with dishes such as celtuce (aka asparagus lettuce) on a bed of rice porridge. The combination was a classic clash, and one that didn’t reflect badly on either the food or the wine, only on the moment when they collided.

The second dinner was two weeks later, with an entirely different menu that turned out to be much more wine-friendly, in particular because it was suddenly mushroom season, with plates offering plenty of fungi that used their earthiness to bring out the fruity complexity in the wines. I tasted a couple of bottles from the famed second-growth Bordeaux estate Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, from the 1988 and 2010 vintages. The age of these wines helped, too, as they were somewhat mellower.

Like other top-flight restaurants, Eleven Madison Park built a vast wine list with pages and pages of such big reds, which, in its non-vegan days, beautifully complemented Humm’s signature duck dish with daikon and plum as well as other culinary highlights. There are still hundreds of Napa Valley cabernets on offer, to name one appellation, but the cuisine has changed radically.

Given that restaurants generally make a significant portion of their profits from beverages, Humm acknowledges that the massive menu revision entailed some risk to wine sales. “We were definitely wondering if this cuisine would attract those who drink these wines,” he says about the serious bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy, among others on the list, that are catnip for traditionalists not known for their interest in, say, seitan. “We didn’t know how it would affect the business side. The good news is that it hasn’t affected it at all.”

When it comes to the nitty-gritty of flavour and texture matches, Humm is philosophical. “The way we’re thinking about it is, wine grapes are plants, and this brings us closer to what we’re doing: working with plants,” he says. (Wine itself, though usually vegetarian, is not necessarily vegan, given various common practices, including the clarification process, called fining, can use animal-derived ingredients, such as albumin from egg whites.)

“We’re not creating food for the wine,” Humm notes, “but it’s part of the thought process.” And he makes a good point about the larger dilemma: “Often you’re pairing with the preparation, not the meat itself.”

Eleven Madison is hardly the only place where the issue has recently come to the fore, and to tackle the topic of big red wines and vegetable-forward food, you have to get into the details of astutely selecting accompaniments. (Or you can go on with your life happily drinking white wines, but the day when that gets old may come.)

At the equally lauded Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain in Tennessee, vice president of food and beverage Andy Chabot notes that even though the restaurants are anything but meat-free, demand for such fare is strong enough that vegetarian and vegan menus are always on offer. “So it’s a challenge we face daily,” he says of getting the pairings right. Like many experts in the field, Chabot focuses on fat, an aspect of matching that many diners seldom contemplate.

Corkbuzz’s Fiorvanti, holder of the coveted title master sommelier, puts it this way: “Fat in food can act as an eraser—it has the ability to mellow tannin in wine.” (Tannin, the remnants of grape skins, stems and such, is the chalky residue that coats your teeth.) Frequently the issue with off-kilter combinations is not the dish’s main ingredients, she adds, “but the preparation or the sauce.”

Chabot’s advice: don’t baby your vegetables, even if they are baby vegetables. “The tendency is to treat vegetables with a light hand,” he says, “but you can employ more intense techniques and sauces that lend themselves to heavier red wines.”

Without meat, “you have to get some other fat in there. It does more than just attach itself to tannin; it coats your palate and protects it from strong flavours.” He cites several Blackberry dishes, including the smoked root broth, black truffle and citrus, as a richer style of cuisine to emulate.

“It’s essentially a vegetarian take on barbecue but maybe even better than the real deal,” Chabot says. “You have smoky flavours, sweet flavours, earthy flavours and that smoky broth, made from rutabagas. All call for those heavier reds you’d often have with barbecued ribs. Zinfandel or cabernet for the US or Spanish reds such as Ribera del Duero or Priorat are nice with this dish.” Those are exactly the kinds of substantial reds that can be tricky.

Independent wine critic Jeb Dunnuck, who reviews wines for a worldwide audience of aficionados on his eponymous website, is another meat-eater with strong opinions on vegetable matching. “The grill is your friend,” says the Colorado-based Dunnuck. “Char lettuce on there if you want.” It’s a point with wide agreement. “Wood-fire grilling and charring will help,” says Chabot.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Dunnuck is a partisan on the side of wine’s primacy at the table—to him, food is important but secondary. “When these chefs try to be too creative, it’s a nightmare,” he laments, referring to cooking both vegan and not. “I don’t envy those sommeliers. I say keep it simple.”

Winemakers have their own take on how their precious products get employed at the vegetable-laden table. Beth Novak Milliken, the president of the Napa Valley–based, family-owned cabernet specialist Spottswoode, says that for her, “veganism is a limiter when it comes to what we consider workable pairings for our wines.”

Then again, limitations force creativity. Novak Milliken, like many others, cites mushrooms as the easiest non-meat ingredient to reach for—her go-to is a mushroom risotto. But when it comes to multicourse vegan menus like those at Eleven Madison Park, how many portobellos and shiitakes can you really eat? Her secret protein weapon is lentils, if they are prepared with enough fat.

Spottswoode is known for creating restrained and elegant cabs, and Novak Milliken makes another point about the truly over-the-top, massive red wines that are still produced, though less frequently these days. “What did those pair well with, anyway?” she says bluntly. “The bigger, riper, more monolithic wines were always meant to be a meal in themselves.”

Dunnuck sees the tide turning, which bodes well for lovers of legumes and leafy greens. “Undeniably today, red wines are coming into balance, and that makes them easier to pair with lighter foods.”

If you are Daniel Humm, cooking for diners who expect fireworks, the concepts of light and heavy may be too reductive. Even the “butter” currently offered at the table, made from sunflowers, is a complex savoury creation. Humm spends a good portion of his time inventing fats—he also makes a faux butter from onions—as well as what he calls pantry items to deliver big vegan flavour, including bonito flakes made with celery root and fermented almond crème frâiche.

Fermentation, a surefire intensifier, is a focus for many chefs these days, especially those working without meat. And the very word itself, still more associated with wine than with food, highlights the pleasures and perils of teaming like-with-like. “We’re using so many fermented products now, to deepen the flavours of the vegetables,” says Humm. “The fermentation of the food matches with the fermentation in the wine.”

But to Chabot, that idea gets filed as too much of a good thing. “You can create dissonance when things are too similar,” he says. “You want things to leave space for each other.”

Humm is open to simpler solutions, too. “When I think of what makes matching work, we always have a deep-fried course now,” he says. “It gives such deep satisfaction, like a fried pepper we’ve done. It was amazing with red wine.”

For her part, Fiorvanti saw a lightbulb go off for participants who signed up for one of Corkbuzz’s series of food-and-wine pairing classes. One of the events focused on the nexus of fat and tannin. “They were all like, ‘Aha!’” says Fiorvanti. Even though that seminar included meat, to her it was an example of how easy it is to engage thoughtfully on the topic. “Once you understand how tannins in red wine interact with fat, it can be simpler to break down a dish. Many foods have fat, and for this reason, it is not just meat that goes with red wine.”

And ultimately, Fiorvanti says, relying on good old common sense comes in handy. Not everything goes together, and that’s okay: “That’s why we don’t put white-peach puree on brussels sprouts.”


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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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