The challenge of pairing a robust, tannic wine like Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon with a vegetarian dish such as Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie is a formidable one. The Diamond Mountain District, located in the northwestern part of Napa Valley, is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon that boasts of powerful tannins, high acidity, and complex flavors ranging from dark fruits to cedar and spices due to its volcanic soil and higher elevation. Meanwhile, Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie, with its earthy lentils, root vegetables, and creamy potato topping, offers a rich tapestry of flavors and textures that are inherently more subtle than those found in meat-based dishes. The aim is to modify the classic veggie pie in a way that accentuates the wine's strengths and complexity while ensuring a harmonious pairing.

The Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon Profile

A bottle of 2020 J. Davies Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was used as a reference in this exercise.

The Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain District is distinguished by its structured tannins, vibrant acidity, and layers of flavor - black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, and sometimes a hint of eucalyptus or mint. The wines are known for their ability to age gracefully, developing a nuanced bouquet over time. The volcanic soil of Diamond Mountain contributes to the wine’s intense color and flavor concentration. When pairing such a wine, the dish needs to have enough flavor intensity and complexity to stand up to the wine without being overshadowed.

Culinary Modifications

Rethinking Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie

The essence of Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie lies in its comforting, homely nature. The modifications aim to retain this essence while elevating the dish to match the Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Flavor Intensification

  1. Lentils: Opt for black lentils (Beluga lentils) for their firmer texture and deeper flavor. Cook the lentils in a vegetable broth fortified with dried porcini mushrooms to introduce a meaty umami that mirrors the depth of the wine.
  2. Vegetables: Incorporate roasted root vegetables like parsnips and carrots to add a caramelized sweetness that can complement the dark fruit notes of the wine. A hint of smoked paprika in the mix can echo the smoky undertones of the Cabernet.
  3. Herb Layering: Thyme and rosemary are classic, but adding sage brings a deeper, earthier element to the pie, aligning with the herbaceous notes in the wine. A bay leaf infused in the cooking lentils adds another layer of complexity.
  4. Potato Topping: Enhance the traditional potato topping with a mix of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes for a nuanced sweetness and silkier texture. Incorporating a touch of truffle oil or truffle salt into the mashed potatoes can elevate the dish with an earthy richness that pairs well with the wine’s elegance.
  5. Sauce Thickening: Use a tomato paste and red wine reduction as part of the base for the lentil and vegetable filling, ensuring the sauce has a concentrated flavor and richness that resonates with the wine’s profile.
Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie & Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon

Serving Suggestions

Serve the Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie with a side of blanched green beans or sautéed kale, dressed lightly with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. These greens add a refreshing contrast and a touch of acidity to balance the richness of the pie and the wine.


Pairing a Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon with Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie requires thoughtful consideration of the wine’s potent tannins, acidity, and complex flavor profile. By intensifying the flavors within the pie through the choice of lentils, the roasting of vegetables, the layering of herbs, the enhancement of the potato topping, and the concentration of the sauce, the dish can be transformed into a worthy companion to the wine. This pairing illustrates the possibility of creating a symphony of flavors where the robustness of Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon finds a harmonious counterpoint in the rich, nuanced flavors of a carefully crafted Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie. It stands as a testament to the art of pairing, showcasing how vegetarian cuisine can be elevated to pair exquisitely with some of the world’s most esteemed wines.

Veggie Lentil Shepherd's Pie & Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon