Skip to content

Column: The truth about truffles, wine pairings

October and November are traditionally the peak months of truffle season. Most of you are familiar with the delicious chocolate truffles that we all enjoy.
truffles and white wine
For a wine pairing with truffle dishes, Tony suggests white wines from the Hermitage region in France.

October and November are traditionally the peak months of truffle season. Most of you are familiar with the delicious chocolate truffles that we all enjoy. The chocolate truffle was named after real truffles, which are actually mushrooms that are highly sought after by foodies all around the world.

Truffles are mushrooms that have a fragrant (or some say pungent) aroma.  There are generally two types of truffles: black and white truffles.  White truffles are more delicate and harder to find, as such, white truffles are more expensive. Black truffles smell like butter with earthy aromas. They taste nutty, woody, chocolatey and spicey. White truffles have a more intense aroma and are musky and garlicky. They grow underground and their distinct aroma allows dogs that are trained to sniff out truffles to find them.

If you want to know what truffles smell like, go out and purchase some truffle oil. I drizzle truffle oil on everything from pasta to eggs. With real truffles, there won’t be the same intensity of aroma that you will get with truffle oil, but what you lose in aroma, you get back in texture. Truffles are normally added to dishes at the end, so they are eaten raw or lightly sauteed.  You get a crisp sensation of biting into something woody with earthy and peppery flavours.  The aromas and flavors of truffles are subtle, so you should serve truffles on top of lightly flavoured dishes. Truffles do well with protein or fat, so truffles over a cheese pizza, lightly sauced pasta, scrambled eggs and even a fatty steak work well.

With wine pairings, since truffles are aromatic but their taste is subtle, you should choose a wine that will not overpower the truffles. A perfect match is a white wine from the Hermitage region made from the Marsanne grape. White Hermitage wines have body but are not very aromatic and they have an oily, dense consistency, so the flavors of the wine complement, and do not compete with the subtlety of the truffles. Stay away from any very fruity or oaky white wines.

If you are going to pair truffles with a red wine, you should still stay away from very fruity wines. A red wine with a little age on it, that has softer tannins works well with truffles.  My suggestion would be to pair truffles with a wine made with the Merlot or Nebbiolo grape, which would nicely complement a pasta with olive oil and truffles.

Truffles are a luxury, not a necessity. If you like mushrooms in general, first experiment with truffle oil or truffle fries.  In my experience, you really have to be prepared for the subtleness of fresh truffles, as there is no way fresh truffles can give you the same intensity of aromas as an unlimited supply of truffle oil.  But usually, truffle oil contains very little actual truffles.  With real truffles, you will get subtle, delicate nuances and a texture in your mouth you won’t find in truffle oil.

My wine recommendation in this article is a stretch if you are pairing with truffles.  But if it doesn’t pair well, at least you will have a good wine to drink!  I am recommending the Beronia 2015 Rioja Reserva.  This is a Spanish wine made with the Tempranillo grape.  It is going to be spicy with good fruit, medium tannin and acidity level. It is also well-priced at $24.99

Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is a lifestyle writer.  Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Tony aims to give you an insider’s guide to the best that life has to offer.