You never know when you will be lobbed into a situation where a full plate of fried plantain is put in front of you, and all you have to wash it down is wine... but 'what wine', you ask yourself. It's because of scenarios such as this that we've produced this blog post. Just kidding...
In all seriousness, though, there are a ton of dishes where plantain plays a significant role and could be a dominant item on your plate or the item with the greatest lingering flavour impact on your palate.
If plantain is being served as a part of a special meal, you just may want to pair a glass of wine with it, and here's what you need to know to veer to the right track.
Originating from Southeast Asia, plantain has made its way into cuisines across the globe, becoming a staple in many tropical and subtropical regions. Unlike bananas, plantains are larger, starchier, and are typically enjoyed when cooked due to their firmer texture. This makes plantain incredibly versatile in both sweet and savoury dishes.
How Plantain Powers You
One of the standout features of plantain is its rich nutrient profile. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and essential vitamins like vitamin A, C, and B-complex. Additionally, plantains provide a good dose of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, contributing to overall heart health and muscle function.
Lastly, for those seeking gluten-free alternatives, plantains can be a game-changer. The flour made from green plantain (green banana) is an excellent substitute for traditional wheat flour, opening up a world of possibilities for those with dietary restrictions.
What Does Plantain Taste Like?
Plantains are like the starchy cousins of bananas. They're firmer and less sweet, with a taste often described as a mix between a banana and a potato. When they're ripe, they have a hint of sweetness but are still not as sugary as regular bananas.
How to Pair Plantain with Wine
We're pairing wine with fried plantain, a staple in my Caribbean home, and probably the only 'side' we would serve at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
As fried plantain is mildly sweet and dense. My approach to pairing here is to manage the sugar and the weight of the food item.
I tested a Vidal with notable residual sugar on the palate, a Moscato d'Asti, and a Madeira (I've got love for Madeira) with my fried plantains.
The Vidal I picked for its off-dry nature on the palate.
The Moscato d'Asti was selected for its sugars, acidity, and texture. Its sugar would meet the plantain where it's at, the acidity would help to break down the starchy nature of the plantain, and the texture is there to give the paring support by adding weight to the wine.
The Madeira was selected because Madeira is awesome... plus the acidity and sugar on this one make it an excellent candidate to take its role and manage the starch in the dish.
The resounding winner in the What Wine Pairs with Plantain was the Moscato d'Asti.
Though the Vidal has residual sugar, it lacked the acidity needed to round out the mouth feel. The Madeira was just too big for the fried plantain. While I love Madeira's warm toasted and caramel notes, this was not the setting for it.
The Moscato d'Asti paired perfectly due its off-dry nature and medium+ acidity. Its delicate mouse did just enough to help with the plantain's texture.
Other wines that would work in this pairing are an off-dry Chenin Blanc and an off-dry Riesling. Both of these grapes are high in acid, and as the expression we are looking for is off-dry, it will have the right amount of sugar to stand up to your fried plantain. Riesling also has a slight weight on the palate, given its phenolic bitterness, which will be an added bonus when trying to pair for plantains starchy nature.
There you have it. The next time you are stranded with just a plate of plantain and wine, you at least know what wine to ask for, and knowing is half the battle!