Most wine drinkers will feel fairly confident picking a bold red wine to go with a Sunday roast, and a crisp white to go with a mid-week fish supper. But people can sometimes struggle to know which wine to pair with a plant-based meal – vegan wine pairing can be a little tricky.
In our house, we limit our meat-eating to once or twice a week, and the rest of the time we’re eating fish, veggie or vegan suppers – everything from curries to soups and pasta bakes. Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting more with matching wine to our meals, and browsing websites like Wines Direct to look for ideas – reading other people’s reviews and comments and about the flavour profiles of particular wines and then trying them out at home.
As a general rule of thumb, well matched wines will either have comparable flavors to a dish, or be very different to bring out the different elements of each. For the contrast example, rieslings (specifically those labeled ‘kabinett’ or ‘spatlese’) with their bright flavors and balanced acidity/sugar are a wonderful foil to spicy Asian dishes. Tip: if you’re making a dish that uses a wine in the sauce or marinade, that same wine will be ideal for drinking with that course.
If you fancy trying some vegan wine pairing, I have shared a few general guidelines to get you started below. But, remember that even though all wines are made of grapes, not all wines are fully vegan-friendly since many wineries rely on animal-based additives to “enhance” or “clarify” the end product. To check which wines are Vegan-friendly, read the labels very carefully, and use websites like Barnivore who have checked a directory of over 35,000 wines.
Earthy flavours like mushroom, aubergine, lentils, beans and cauliflower will usually be a great match for fruity red wines. Something as simple as a classic ratatouille can be made turned into a memorable meal by adding a glass of something bold and fruity. In fact, all vegan dishes with a tomato base tend to be acidic and so work well with a fruity red. I’m a fan of the medium-bodied, juicy Puglian Primitivo from Sainsbury’s.
White wine is usually a bit mellower and softer to the taste than its red cousin, so it’s best to pair it with vegan recipes which lighter flavours. Most types of roasted vegan dishes and many kinds of tofu recipes taste great with a glass of chilled white. I love the bright flavors and balanced acidity/sugar of a Reisling; it goes particularly well with spicy, Asian-inspired dishes.
You might be used to reserving fizz for an aperitif or an after-dinner treat, but sparkling wines match with savoury foods very well. Creamy pasta recipes and salty fried chips are both great combined with the bubbly sensation provoked by a good sparkling wine. The Metro’s guide to vegan fizz is a great place to look for inspiration: metro.co.uk/vegan-champagne.
Hopefully this little guide will help you with your own vegan wine pairing at home, but if in doubt, remember – Champagne goes with everything! 😉