Insects and wine around the world: Our top 10 traditional pairings, part 2/2

It’s been a while since we posted the first half of this list, but we hope these next pairings are worth the wait! Here are five more traditional pairings of insects and wines from around the world:


6. Silkworms and Makkori* (Korea) 

 Traditional Korean rice wine is sweet and viscous, and about 6 to 7 % alcohol. The silkworms have a distinct umami flavour. Similarly to No.5, this match is perfect for those who like their food and drink with a lot of flavour! Read a review here.

*Also ‘Makkoli’, ‘Makgeoli’, etc. 


7. Mopane caterpillars and millet beer (Southern Africa)

Mopane caterpillars are wild-harvested twice a year throughout southern Africa, and many of the villagers who collect them also brew a traditional beer from millet. The caterpillars are stewed with onions and tomatoes, giving them a richness that works well with the slightly sour beer.


8. Hornets and hornet liquor (Japan)

Giant Japanese hornets are edible insect royalty, so if you’re lucky enough to try some, what better to pair them with than a drink made with their own venom? The base for this drink is “white liquor”, which is 20-30% alcohol, but the flavor comes from the hornets themselves, which are drowned alive in the alcohol and left to steep for at least two years before the drink is ready. Read more about this here.


9. Casu marzu and strong Sardinian red wine (Italy)

Casu marzu, a cheese fermented with fly maggots, is a Sardinian delicacy, and best enjoyed with a strong red wine also from Sardinia – the most common grape variety is Cannonau, which is the local name for Grenache.


10. Black soldier fly larvae and craft beer (North America)

I was once lucky enough to visit a black soldier fly factory in North America. The flies were fed on waste from a neighbouring brewery and being bred for animal feed, but my host confided in me that on some days after work, the staff would head next door to the brewery and enjoy a craft beer with a snack of fly larvae! I tasted the larvae myself, and they were surprisingly good – the brewery waste gave them a sweet, yeasty flavour.


So that’s the end of our top ten traditional insects and wine pairings from around the world! What do you think? Which one sounds best to you? And have we missed any out? Comment below and let us know!


With thanks to: Kenichi Nonaka for introducing me to pairing number 7, Tetsuo Nakagaki for introducing me to the joys of pairing number 8, Roberto Flore for telling me about pairing number 9, Glen Courtright for letting me taste the insect part of pairing number 10, and Catherine and Lori from Simbi for pairings 4 and 6, as well as everyone else who’s given me delicious insects and wine over the past few years!

How we cooked our caterpillars

I’ve posted a couple of recipes for cooking caterpillars before, both of which followed the exact quantities and steps used by women in Burkina Faso; you can find them here and here.

But although I realise recipes are pretty important, I dont like to use them, because smelling, tasting and adjusting accordingly are all a lot more fun than checking your screen/recipe book every few minutes.

For the I&W launch party,  these are the steps we took to cook our caterpillars:


  • 3 handfuls of dried caterpillars
  • Tsp salt
  • 2 small onions
  • Oil (enough to saute the ingredients; sunflower oil works well)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Spice
  1. I threw the dried caterpillars in a pan of boiling water with a  pinch of salt, and boiled them for at least a couple of hours, to soften them. It seems to take longer to soften caterpillars in the UK, compared to Burkina, and I’m not sure why, but I always soak/boil them for as long as I can. After boiling they’ll keep in the fridge for a day or so before you cook them.
  2. I chopped the heads off the caterpillars and sliced each caterpillar in half. This is pretty time consuming, and only really necessary if you reckon the people you’re serving are either a) squeamish about eating caterpillars or b) very particular about how they like thier caterpillars!
  3. I chopped the onion and sauteed it in the oil on a low heat.
  4. I chopped the tomato and garlic too, and added these shortly after. As the onions started to turn translucent, I added the softened and chopped caterpillars.
  5. I sauteed them for at least 10 minutes. A couple of minutes before taking them off the heat, I added a few spices that I found in Chris’ kitchen. I think I used some paprika (smoked paprika would be great here), a bit of cayenne pepper, and some black pepper.
  6. Then, we served them! And in case you haven’t already read it, here‘s a description of how they tasted and the wines they paired best with.
Caterpillars sauteed with onions and tomatoes