Ratatouille: Flavorful French Country Dish
After a few months backpacking in Southeast Asia, she was interested in creating amazing plant-based dishes in a big, American-style kitchen. I was standing by to pair her work with the best wines I could find.
This dish not only satisfied the appetite, but had an amazing presentation. The veggies were layers and spiraled around the circular pan. It looked so wonderful, it was almost a shame to eat it. Almost!
Southern Rhone Wine To The Rescue
My cellar was appallingly low on French wine, with most clearly not suited for this dish. Lingering in the shadows and waiting to step into the spotlight was the 2009 Vignobles Mayard Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau de ma Mère.
Some of France’s best wines come from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Maynard’s “Crau” parcel contains Grenache vines 105-years-old. The blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. The wine is aged 18 months in “foudres” – a large wooden vat significantly larger than a typical oak barrel.
We decanted the wine for about a half hour before dinner. The wine is still quite lively nine years after vintage. It is drinking in its prime now, but could probably age for up to three more years. The tannins are soft and the wine was jammy with a nice acidity. Just as there were layers in the Ratatouille, there were delicate layers of complexity in the wine, with cherry, blackberry notes.
A good rule of thumb when pairing food and wine is to opt for wine from the country of the cuisine. Ratatouille and Southern Rhone equaled an evening of French elegance. Viva la France!