The Weird Reason Sommeliers Avoid Artichokes

Artichokes are kind of like the crab legs of the vegetarian and vegan world. It takes a lot less time to steam some crab legs – around 12 minutes, according to The Stay At Home Chef - than it does to roast artichokes, which can take up to an hour and a half according to Allrecipes. But one major similarity between the two is that you get about as much artichoke meat per leaf as you would trying to clean out the interior of crab legs. There's actually another difficult side to cooking and serving artichokes that you might not be aware of, though.

Apparently, artichokes contain a compound called cynarine (via Reddit). Though it might not seem like a big deal, this compound can actually throw off the flavors of your meal. Cynarine has an uncanny ability to make the other foods you eat taste sweeter as well as whatever wine's paired with your meal (via Share Care).

Here's why it's an issue for sommeliers

The fact that a single food on your plate can make everything else and your wine taste sweeter is a big problem for sommeliers or the person in charge of pairing the perfect wine to complement your meal. Not to mention, the naturally occurring chemical can make wine taste "flabby" and "boring," according to Sarah Knoefler, a sommelier who oversees wine at a collection of San Francisco eateries under the Au Bon Repas Restaurant Group (via Eater).

Fortunately, Knoefler also knows there are quite a few good wines that do pair well with artichokes. She says, "the key to pairing wine with any artichoke dish is to choose a wine that is bone dry, light and crisp, with high acidity and no oak." The reason to avoid oak when eating artichokes comes down to the fact that oak gives wine a sweetness. Instead, she advises you to look for a wine that matches the flavor profile of an artichoke. That means seeking out options that taste herbal, green, slightly bitter, and even chalky. That's why she suggests Txakoli, a Basque varietal that is "slightly sparkling, very dry, with lots of tart green apple and mineral flavors," according to Knoefler.

So keep these paring directives in mind the next time you plan to serve artichokes. Your dinner companions will only know the risk you took if you tell them.