Beetroot or beaujolais? The intriguing veg wines of Twins Garden, Moscow
We asked the chefs to tell us about an unexplored world of vegetable wine, and let us in on a few of their latest inventions.
09 December 2020
“It's essential to reveal the full potential of a vegetable” declared the Beresuzkiy brothers from the stage at last year’s Gastromasa conference. This statement came as they presented their inventive take on typical Russian flavours, demonstrating how water (in its various forms – liquid, ice or steam) can condense and intensify familiar flavours. For instance, they use steam to manipulate the taste of an oyster mushroom by adding a concentrated crab stock into the steamer and leaving the mushrooms for seven days to grow and really soak up every last bit of that crab flavour.
These celebrated chefs own one of the most ambitious restaurants in Russia: Twins Garden, which currently holds 19th place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Having honed their skills in much-praised kitchens such as El Bulli and Alinea, the brothers now put their efforts into rediscovering authentic Russian flavours, with an emphasis on using science to rethink vegetables.
Local ingredients used intelligently and inventively remain at the core of their offerings; roughly half of the produce they use is supplied from their own farm. This year, Twins Garden became the first restaurant in Russia to enter We're Smart World’s list of the world’s 13 best vegetable restaurants, achieving the top rating of five ‘radishes’.
A particularly interesting aspect of the approach is the chefs’ dedication to capturing and emphasising a vegetable's umami sensation. One innovative answer to this challenge comes in the form of vegetable wine.
We asked the chefs to tell us a bit more about this unexplored world of vegetable wine, and let us in on a few of their latest inventions.
How it all started
We wanted to make a gastronomic tasting set based only on vegetables, and it seemed to us that we needed some kind of liquid accompaniment to the dishes. We decided not to go with a juice pairing because that’s the sort of thing you can find in many places. Juice, in our opinion, didn’t fulfill the brief that we faced, because when you make vegetable juice, in fact, you just get something very similar to the original product – only in liquid form. And so we decided to try making wine (out of curiosity rather than anything else really). As everybody knows, wine is just grapes, sugar, and yeast. But in fact, sugar can be found in all sort of fruits and berries – and also vegetables! Winemaking is fascinating because during the fermentation process the taste of the original product and its aromatics change greatly, allowing new tastes, new aromas, and completely unexpected undertones to appear. We quickly realised that it was more interesting for us to work with wine, and so we started producing it.
Fresh ideas from tradtional technology
We use different methods for different vegetables, but they are all technologies that come from traditional winemaking. We make wines using methods for reds, classic white wines and sparkling wines, and we also make pét-nat. We essentially take classic wine recipes and burgundy yeast and swap the main ingredient (the grapes) for various vegetables, herbs and mushrooms.
What’s new on the seasonal menu
This year we made three new mushroom wines. Previously we had only done porcini wine, but now we also make wines from morels, birch boletes and chanterelles. We made fennel pét-nat, and we were able to make red wine from beetroot. For this season we have a lot of completely new wines, and refined some of the wines we had made before by slightly adjusting the technology. With each new barrel, we try to make the wine even better than it was last time.
Possibilities for the future
We try to experiment with new products and play around with new flavours all the time. But this is a very lively process and we may fail many times before something works – or it may not work at all (this has also happened). That’s why we prefer not to talk about any future plans until the moment we actually make a new wine that really satisfies us. We have a lot of ideas in the pipeline, but we don’t like to talk about them in advance.
Which do we like best? It's hard to choose just one. Usually our favourite is the one that we’ve just finished working on! That means our current favourites are those made from mushrooms and beetroot. Having said that, tomato wine is really interesting – and parsnip wine is awesome! We now have 14 wines – each of which we worked on for many months, putting huge amounts of time and effort into every one of them. That makes it very difficult to choose one. They are all extremely interesting – and we hope that everyone will find something that will become their own personal favourite.