If you read a lot about wine and food pairings, you’ll know that there are lots of rules and it can get really confusing. We have put together this blog to try to demystify this, and offer some tried and tested wine pairings to get you started with matching wine and vegan food.
Vegan Food and wine combinations
There are lots of different types of vegan food, so it would be impossible to cover them all so this just looks at some common vegan food types and gives wine matching suggestions to get you started:
Tomato based dishes
Tomato-based dishes are simple to pair, just stick with Italian reds and you can’t go far wrong. This is one of those situations, where the food and wine of a country go perfectly together and you shouldn’t try to fight it. Italian reds are quite acidic for red wines and combine really well with the tomatoes’ acidity. So if you’re making a tomato pasta dish, stew or even pizza, you have a vast array of (Italian!) reds to pick from. To help you narrow it down, you may want to consider what else is in your dish.
One of our favourites Italian reds at the moment (pictured with our homemade pizza), is an Organic Nero d’Avolo from Sicily; full of rich cherry flavours, gentle tannins and a nice balanced acidity.
See the last section on creamy and cheesy dishes.
Olives go really well with Ital…. only kidding! Actually, olives pair really well with French Syrahs. Go for ones from the Rhone or the more affordable Languedoc region. Our recommendation here has to be the Shrinking Violet Syrah from one of our favourite winemakers in Languedoc.
There are a lot of different mushrooms from very delicate ones such as enoki through to ‘meaty’ savoury ones like portobello, which determines the wine pairing. Some classic mushroom / wine matching combinations are:
- Mushroom risotto – a lightly oaked Chardonnay or Italian whites such as Soave or Fiano.
- Sautéed mushrooms with garlic – Pinot Noir – we’d have to suggest this lovely sustainable Pinot Noir from Languedoc.
- Portobello mushrooms – big bold reds, such as a Zinfandel, Malbec or a Bordeaux. Depending on whether you want to go new world or old, we propose matching with Lorca Lorca Malbec from Argentina or a very reasonably priced Bordeaux Supérieur.
Bean and lentil dishes
Bean and lentil dishes tend to be dictated by the type of dish you are cooking.
Simple beans or lentils without spice go well with full bodied whites (maybe an oaked Chardonnay or Viognier) or a lighter red. For example, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or even a Garnacha works well here. If you are going for earthy flavours, maybe with added roasted veg, then you want to consider earthy wine matchings. So again, a Pinot Noir would work really well. For this, we think this Serbal Pinot Noir from Argentina would be an excellent match.
Spicy beans follow the rules of spicy as discussed below, but essentially you want fruity, lower alcohol wines and steer clear of any oak or too much tannin. More specifically, if you are going for spicy Mexican dishes such as burritos or tacos, they can go extremely well with a Spanish Albariño (or the Portuguese equivalent Alvarinho). If you have lots of flavour going on, you may want to go to a lighter red. Again looking at wines like Beaujolais or a fruity Garnacha. For this, we’d put forward our Albariño from Rías Baixas or actually go with this Spanish Garnacha Rosé.
Pan-Asian dishes and Tofu
Tofu is a very adaptable ingredient (and one of my favourites!) and will take on the flavours of whatever it is cooked with, so it really does depend how it’s being served.
If you are doing a soy sauce based stirfry, then you want to go with a fruity red (most likely new world). Think Merlot from Chile, Pinot Noir from New Zealand or not new world at all…, and go with a Beaujolais from France. Our new world pick would actually be this fruity Merlot from South Africa.
More generally, Pan-Asian dishes (but not curry) go well with full bodied whites and fruity red wines.
Spicy foods and curry
If you are having a curry, then an off dry Riesling or a fruity rosé goes extremely well. It will taste refreshing up against the curry and keep the spice balanced (unless you start with a super hot curry and then you’re on your own!!). One of my favourite rosés that would work well here is a Rioja Rosé.
If you have a heavier curry (aubergine being a classic example), then you probably want to go with a light fruity red to stand up to the flavours. A Beaujolais is a good example here.
Salads being lighter dishes need lighter wines, so typically you would want to have a white wine or a rosé. Some good all round whites for having with salads are Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer or even the divisive Chardonnay. A word of warning through, try to avoid vinegar heavy salad dressings as this can really throw the pairing out; balsamic vinegar is better as it’s sweeter or even rice vinegar as it’s much less acidic. If you have fruit in your salad, then a fruity white can go nicely.
Asparagus has a reputation for being difficult to pair, but actually goes really well with Sauvignon Blanc. It needs an acidic wine and the grassy notes of the Sauvignon Blanc complement the asparagus flavour really well. The Tinpot Hut Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is a good example of one that pairs well.
Creamy or cheesy dishes
Creamy or cheesy dishes need acidic wines from cooler climates to cut through the richness. So a Bacchus from the UK would be our go to here (this Polgoon), or something like a dry Riesling from Germany or Austria, or a Sancerre.
Simple pairing rules
Let’s end by giving some very simple rules to guide you for matching wine and vegan foods not mentioned above:
- Acidic wines go well with acidic foods.
- Slightly sweet / lower alcohol wines go well with spicy food.
- Sweet wines go well with sweet foods and desserts.
- Tannic red wines go well with salty foods.
- Acidic or sparkling wines go well with fatty or fried foods.
Some people even go with the old adage of what grows together, goes together.
Hopefully this blog will have given you some ideas on wine and food pairings, but the main thing to remember is, if YOU enjoy it, then it’s the right pairing.