Vegetarian French Dip Sandwich & Merlot

Pinot Noir with mushrooms is the standard pairing rule. I love to break rules as much as I can. I believe the velvety texture of a good Merlot pairs perfectly with the creamy texture of mushrooms.


I was given a couple bottles of Efeste’s Upright Merlot and set out to create a meal around this delicious wine. With fall setting in I wanted to create a warm and inviting meal to pair with this Merlot.

Upright Merlot

I quickly decided to make my take on a classic French Dip Sandwich, with a vegetarian twist. By marinating Portobello Mushrooms in the wine the great fruit flavor penetrated the mushroom and added depth. I then grilled the mushrooms and zucchini to give a char, building more levels of flavor. Combining those flavors with smoky provolone, sweet onions, and crunchy bread dipped into a mushroom and Merlot au jus is pure heaven.


Kevin and I get out to Efeste’s winery in Woodinville often, I don’t know what we enjoy more the Wine or the People! Daniel (Big Papa) and Helen are so sweet and they welcome you in as if you are entering their home. Each wine is amazing in fact my Mum loves their Syrah and she’s the biggest hater of Syrah I’ve ever met.


I hope you head out and get a bottle of Upright and make my Vegetarian French Dips for your friends this fall! Watch for more pairings with Efeste wines too since they are so fun to pair food with!

how good is that

Vegetarian French Dips
Serves 5
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  1. 2-3 Portobello mushrooms, depending on size
  2. 2 zucchini
  3. ¼ cup Merlot (I love Efeste Upright)
  4. ¼ cup olive oil
  5. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  6. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced (I actually use a garlic press here)
  8. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
Herbed Butter
  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  2. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, I use basil, chives, rosemary, parsley and thyme
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. ½ teaspoon pepper
  5. ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Caramelized Onions
  1. 1 sweet yellow onion
  2. olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
Mushroom Au Jus
  1. 4 cups mushroom broth
  2. 1 clove garlic, smashed
  3. ¼ cup Merlot
  4. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. 1 baguette, I like the Parisian from the Essential Baking Co.
  2. 3 slices smoked provolone cheese, cut in ½
  1. Combine the red wine vinegar, Merlot, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to make the marinade.
  2. Remove the stem of the mushroom and with a spoon scrape the gills off. Chop the stem and place along with the gills into a saucepan, for the au jus.
  3. Slice the zucchini into ¼- ½ inch thick strips.
  4. Place mushrooms and zucchini slices into a zip lock bag and pour in the marinade. Let this sit for 30 minutes.
Au jus
  1. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan with the mushroom trimmings with 1 smashed garlic clove. Over medium heat sauté until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the Merlot and scrape up any bits that struck to the pan. Add in the broth and soy sauce and bring just to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain out the solids and return to pan, keep warm.
  1. Heat a grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Lay out the zucchini slices on the grate and the mushrooms topside down. Reserve the marinade and pour into a large bowl.
  2. Grill until you have grill marks on zucchini slices and flip. Once the mushroom caps start filling with their own juices, gently pour off liquid back into marinade. Grill second side of mushrooms until just tender.
  3. Place the mushroom caps and zucchini slices back into the marinade. Once mushrooms are cool enough to handle slice them at a slight angle so you have nice slices.
Herbed Butter
  1. In a bowl mix the softened butter with the minced herbs of choice and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Caramelize Onions
  1. Slice the onion in ½ and then slice so you have thin ½ circles of onion. Break them apart so you have thin slices.
  2. Heat a pan (don’t use non-stick) over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss all the onions into the pan and gently toss to coat with olive oil. Cook until the onions get to a nice golden brown color. If they start to burn lower heat and deglaze with a little splash of the Merlot. Season the onions with salt and pepper.
Assemble the Sandwich
  1. Slice the baguette in ½ lengthwise; slather both sides with the herb butter.
  2. Lay out a layer of the mushroom slices, top with the slices of zucchini. Next add the sliced provolone and top with the caramelized onions. Sometimes I add another layer of cheese on top too!
  3. Bake on a baking sheet with the top of the baguette off but on the side. Bake in a 350-degree oven until cheese is melted, top the sandwich and remove from oven. Once cool enough to handle slice into manageable slices and serve with a small bowl of the Au Jus for dipping!
Shaun Myrick

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