Try the workhorse Italian white wine with the jack of all trades vegetable. They pair with lots of things but most importantly each other.
Disclosure: The pinot grigio wines pictured in this post were provided by Delle Venezie DOC as media samples. All opinions are my own.
A meteoric rise into the American diet
Both pinot grigio and cauliflower have had a meteoric rise in popularity into the American diet.
Cauliflower was considered by some to be a bland, white vegetable, with obligatory inclusion into the frozen mixed vegetable bag along with green beans, carrots, and peas. But with the rise of keto/low carb diets, it has become a savior from the veritable evils of flour, rice, and gluten.
The New York Times wrote of the "ascension of cauliflower" and Time magazine called it the new "it" vegetable ranking as the #4 frozen vegetable at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's having to impose two bag per person limitations.
Likewise, pinot grigio is now the second most consumed white wine in the US after Chardonnay.
Known to some as a refrigerator white wines, pinot grigio is aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels resulting in a very clean, refreshing, and acidic white wines.
7 Fast Facts about Pinot Grigio
- Pinot grigio is the result of a mutation between pinot nero and pinot bianco grapes
- The grapes have pinkish berries which is why it is called pinot grigio or the color grey
- 59% of the world's pinot grigio wine comes from Italy, 15% from the US, 10% from Germany, 5% from France, and 4% from Moldova
- 96% of Italy's pinot grigio is exported, mostly to the US, Canada, and Great Britain.
- It tastes of citrus, green apples, stonefruit, white peaches, pears, white flowers, ginger, almond and walnuts.
- It is meant to be drunk fresh and not typically aged.
- Classic food pairings are sushi, white meat, or as an aperitivo with cheese.
Enter regulation with the DOC label
While much of Italy's production of pinot grigio hails from the northeastern part of the country, the European Union ratified the Delle Venezie DOC in 2020.
The region already had the market but wanted a way to distinguish their wine from cheaper versions that do not undergo as much quality control.
It is the first interregional DOC encompassing the regions of Fruili, Veneto, and Trentino.
Pinot grigio from warmer regions tend to lack acidity, complexity, and can taste "flabby."
The DOC label is one way to ensure you are getting a pinot grigio with good acidity that will pair well food.
Pair with any kind of cauliflower dish
Any way you cook cauliflower, it will probably pair it with Pinot Grigio and satisfy the vegetarian, non fish eating dinner guest.
Cauliflower is like a white canvas for creative cooks to paint on the flavors of their choosing.
1. Pair with briney, salty flavors
2. Pair with a creamy preparation
3. Pair with earthy, spicy flavors
A DOC label doesn't mean expensive!
Recently at Grocery Outlet, I came upon a display of white wines priced from $3-$6.
While one might roll their eyes and wonder how good the wines could actually be, a couple of them were pinot grigios that had the trusty blue DOC label.
You will have to judge the taste, but at least you know that it went multiple tasting panels and testing as the DOC requires.