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!

Insects and wine around the world: Our top 10 traditional pairings, part 1/2

Edible insects are touted as the ‘future’ of food, and we’re by no means the first to consider how they might pair well with wine as part of Western cuisine.

But: If 2 billion people enjoy insects as part of their daily diet, what ‘wine’ do they drink with them? (Since not all cultures make alcoholic drinks from grapes – the definition of wine, at least in the EU – we are taking an expansive view here, and considering any alcoholic beverage.

Much like edible insects, a diverse range of fermented drinks are commonly consumed worldwide. Here are the first five of our top ten* traditional insect and wine pairings from around the world:

(*Normally top tens are in order of taste. But we can’t decide on our favourite, let alone rank all 10! What do you think? Do you have a favourite?)

 

1. Mezcal and chapulines (Mexico)

Chapulines served with mezcal and a wedge of lemon

Chapulines (grasshoppers) are usually cooked with salt, chilli and lemon. They’ve got a really unique taste, and go well with smoky mezcal, which is fermented from agave plants. (click here to read about how mezcal is made, and here to read about a couple of other Mexican insects enjoyed with mezcal)

2. Goto-mushi and warm shochu (Japan)

A beautiful photo of goto-mushi from @Bug_tasting_bot

Goto-mushi are the larvae of the long-horned beetle. They’re found in winter, and are delicious roasted over an open fire and accompanied with a warm shot of shochu, a spirit distilled from fermented grain or potatoes, but usually with a much lower ABV (alcohol by volume) than vodka.

These larvae are also the favourite edible insect of insect cuisine expert Shoichi Uchiyama, who says ‘they’ve got a deep flavor and are creamy, like ‘toro’ cuts from tuna‘.

 

3. Palm grubs and palm wine (West and Central Africa)

These photos show how a rotting palm is felled to unearth palm grubs – click here for more details!

Palm grubs are found inside the rotting trunks of fallen palms; palm wine is tapped from living palms. The wine is sweetest when it’s freshly tapped, and compliments the grubs, which can be roasted, smoked or stewed with spices. (Click here to read more about palm wine, and here to read about some other insects that are traditionally enjoyed with it in the Democratic Republic of Congo)

This photo shows a palm-wine tapper hard at work – and taking a swig of freshly tapped wine!

 

4. Fried crickets and smoked rice wine (Northeast India)

We’ve never tried this, but we’ve read about Northern Indian fried crickets and smoked rice wine here and here, and we think that this pairing sounds delicious!

 

5. Shea caterpillars and sugar cane spirit (West and Central Africa) 

Shea caterpillars sold alongside sugar cane spirit on market day in Burkina Faso. They were sold out by noon!

Sugar plantations and shea-maize agroforestry fields are common in western Africa. Cane sugar is fermented and distilled to make a potent spirit, while the caterpillars that feed on the shea trees are collected and cooked with chilli and soumbala. The savoury caterpillars are a perfect match for the sweet spirit. The flavours are strong, and this is not a pairing for the fainthearted… (Click here to read about how these caterpillars are collected, and here for a recipe.)

TBC… 


Part 2 is on its way (and see our acknowledgments below for some clues to its content). But in the meantime – What about you? Have you come across a great insect and wine pairing that’s not mentioned here? Tell us about it!

 

With thanks to: Gabe Mott from Aspire FG for guiding me to pairing number 1, Gobar and Kushihara Agroforestry for introducing me to pairing number 2, @Bug_tasting_bot for the beautiful photo of pairing number 2, Ndopo for taking me through Congolese villages where pairing number 3 could be found, Antoinette and Bertine for preparing pairing number 5 countless times, (spoiler alert for pairings 6-10…) 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!