Globe artichoke (Cynara scolyum) is often considered as a “wine killer”. This bad reputation comes from the mode of preparation rather than the ingredient itself.
Grilled artichokes - just like other grilled greens - will indeed add a bitter taste to most wines. It has to do with the green colour and bitter association, as well as interactions of charred flavour, oak and tannins.
Cooked and/or pickled artichokes are much more forgiving. The process of cooking results in roasted and caramelly aroma molecules and increasing umami taste.
The toasted, honey and paraffin notes in aged Rieslings come handy to match the sweet roasted aromas of cooked artichoke. The responsible aroma compound is 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene (TDN in short), which funnily tastes like licorice on its own and is present in red currant as well. Add the subtle sweetness and citrusy floral character (terpenes) of German Riesling armed with mineral acidity that will resurrect even the most challenging foods.
Cooked artichokes with licorice and red currant sauce anyone?
Take-home recommendation: if you find yourself at a BBQ with grilled artichokes, keep your best bottle for another occasion.
Featured wine: 2007 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese