Balancing Act: Pairing Wine and Artichokes

Balancing Act: Pairing Wine and Artichokes

By: Fritz Hatton

Wine and Artichokes with Arietta's On the White Keys

Artichokes are a renowned enemy of wine.  We love artichokes.  We love wine. Can we bring these two bitterly opposed factions together?

We are very fortunate that one of our Arietta wines plays the peacemaker. It is the Arietta White Wine On The White Keys.

The bright acidity of the barrel fermented and non-malolactic Sauvignon Blanc component of the White Keys is powerful enough to ride over the bitterness of the choke, and guide us safely and pleasurably to the fruitier and honey-inflected finish provided by the Semillon in the blend.  The key to this successful match is not just the brightness, but the power and length of the White Keys, which we find virtually unique.

My parents loved artichokes so I gained an appreciation for them as a child.  However, I still meet people who view them as a mystery, the vegetarian equivalent of an armadillo or porcupine, with leaves like armor with short spikes that can draw blood.

Artichokes are actually quite easy to prepare.  Some prefer to grill but we always steam them. Here are some tips:

  • Use kitchen shears to trim off the tops of the spiky leaves
  • Use a good kitchen knife to slice off the stem, and then rinse, and place the stem end down in a steamer at medium for about 50 minutes (longer at higher altitude).  Keep an eye on the water in your steamer. If it dries out, you’ll burn the artichoke!
  • Don’t steam so long that the leaves and the choke get “mushy.” When you can remove a leaf with a gentle tug, and the flesh at the bottom of the leaf is soft enough to scrape off easily between your teeth, consider it done.
  • For a sauce we combine mayonnaise with Meyer lemon juice and cracked black pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy the leaves but don’t forget the heart—that is the best part.

How you proceed from here depends on the relative sophistication of your table manners—a fine restaurant or highly accomplished chef would not leave you to your own devices at this point.  However, if at home with family or close friends, lift the innermost leaves off the base, and then scrape the stringy chokes off the heart with a dull knife.  You will be left with a  disc of tender artichoke meat—the prize at the end of a culinary journey.

If you give it a go, we’d love to hear about it! Share your photo with us on Facebook or Instagram or write us here.


About Fritz Hatton
Fritz has over four decades of experience in the fine and rare wine business and in addition to being a vintner is the nation’s foremost wine auctioneer. He serves as principal auctioneer for Zachys Wine Auctions, and as auctioneer for many charities nationwide, including Auction Napa Valley.