By Robert Richards
Each year I grow a vegetable garden. In the past I generally planted a few staples like carrots, tomatoes, and beans but the last couple years I’ve expanded my garden’s size. That opened the door to planting a variety of things I hadn’t grown before but also brought on the question, “What do I plant now that I have all this area to fill?”
Besides gardening I also enjoy wine and like a lot of people, belong to a wine club (If you don’t belong to a wine club you really should because it is so convenient). One night while fixing dinner it occurred to me to plant foods that pair well with wines I receive from my club, either in a recipe or prepared individually. Using this strategy made the decision process much easier. After a few minutes of Google time I’d mapped out my garden.
Onions go with almost every meat I’m going to pair with wine so I doubled the area for onions and planted 80 Walla Wallas. I’ll use them mainly with beef paired with Sangiovese, Pinot noir, or Tempranillo. I also make a fantastic onion, apple, and cranberry sauté I put on bratwurst or even chicken and paired with a nice Chardonnay.
Parsnips go well in roast beef or sautéed in butter as a side to beef so I planted a few rows. They didn’t sprout well on my first planting so I did a second and they seem to be doing ok. I’ll pair them mostly with the varietals mentioned with onions but when I’m grilling fish I’ll sautée them. Sautéed they are fantastic with Chenin blanc.
Sauvignon blanc is one of my summer wine favorites. Green veggies and salad pair well with it so I removed the less sweet bush beans and extended my pole beans section. Pole beans are sweeter than the bush beans making them better in a salad or roasted in olive oil as a side to pork or chicken. Using this logic I doubled my zucchini plants as well.
I removed the hot peppers this year. Not because I don’t like them, but because last year I had such a huge crop I still have two gallon-sized bags full of dried habanero and jalapeño peppers. If you want any let me know. They are picante and delicious. I’ll be using them in chili or carne asada taco meat and paired with a Cabernet sauvignon or Gamay Noir.
I kept the number of tomato plants the same this year. One cherry tomato and five beefsteak tomato plants. They are a lot like onions in that they are versatile and go in so many recipes. I’ll eat them paired with more wine varietals than anything else in my garden.
Strawberries have always been part of my garden and that won’t change any time soon. They’re a crowd pleaser and strawberries straight from the garden with a wee glass of champagne makes for a mighty fine dessert.
Have fun in your garden this summer and when you’re looking for a great wine club to pair with your home grown fruit and veg make sure to visit Best Bottle .