If there were ever a rule meant to be broken, it’s that artichokes are “impossible” to pair with wine. Whether steamed, stewed, roasted, grilled, deep-fried or even shaved raw in a salad, artichokes’ subtle flavor and meaty texture actually suit a variety of pours. The trick is to account for their cynarine, a naturally occurring compound they contain that can increase the perceived sweetness of anything consumed alongside it. If you keep the wine dry and crisp, however, you can focus on some of this thistle’s more tempting traits.
Artichokes have an elegant herbal character reminiscent of fresh-cut grass. Sancerre, made from Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley, shares this grassiness and has a crisp and bone-dry profile that makes it perhaps the best wine for artichokes.
The intrinsic nuttiness of artichokes is accentuated by high-heat cooking techniques like grilling or frying. While dry vermouth is often used in cocktails, on its own, it has savory botanicals that make a terrific pairing with an artichoke’s richer notes.
Artichokes have a brightness that can come across as pleasingly tart, but can also seem bitter or metallic. To round everything out, match this quality with a high-acid wine with fuller body, like Greco di Tufo from Campania in southern Italy.
These vegetables are one of the few with tannins. When tannic foods meet a tannic red wine, each can taste bitter. The comparably subtle tannins in skin-contact white wines are more harmonious and would bring out an artichoke’s sweetness.