How To Pair Wine for Vegetarians

How to pair wine for vegetarians

How to pair wine for vegetarians

Most of the common wine-pairing knowledge available online and through word-of-mouth is typically centered around meat as the primary ingredient of the meal. With Vegetarianism on the rise, learning to pair wine with vegan meals can be more than challenging.

Wines To Avoid:
The first step of learning to pair vegetables and wine is to identify the wines you should stay away from. Any robust reds, like cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, are better with heavier meat dishes and typically overwhelm vegetable dishes. Also, protein-free vegetarian dishes tend to taste bitter and metallic when paired with most red wines.

A Few Exceptions:
There are a few reds that can be paired with vegetarian dishes. Softer, fruity wines such as pinot noir and gamay go well with greens. Also, if you are eating an Italian dish like pizza or pasta heavier in tomatoes, you would do well with a Tuscan Chianti.

Also, any wine made with the sangiovese grape (like Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino) can be paired with richer dishes but this is definitely a more advanced wine pairing technique so don’t try these for the first time when hosting a dinner party. Testing it out on in-laws, of course, is perfectly acceptable.

Canned Veggies:
Canned veggies like green beans peas and asparagus tend to mix well with sauvignon blanc. In fact, sauvignon blanc is probably the overall best choice for nearly all vegetarian dishes.

Richer Dishes:
Vegetarian doesn’t always mean light. There are plenty of heavier dishes like casseroles, lasagna and other dishes with heavy sauces that will often require a wine with a bit more bite.

For these dishes I would recommend a chardonnay or possibly (for dishes like the lasagna) a medium-bodied red, but I would only pair the latter if I knew that there was plenty of cheese, noodles or potatoes to counteract the tannins in the merlot.

Onions and Peppers:
If either of these are the primary ingredient in your dish then I would recommend pairing a drier wine like pinot grigio or pinot blanc. They both have the flavor to not be drowned out by the onions/peppers but aren’t very sweet and won’t counteract their flavor.

Sauteed Vegetables:
When sauteeing vegetables in butter, vegetable or olive oil, any kind of mildly-oaked sauvignon blanc will blend well. Try to avoid sauvignon blanc with a heavy oak taste whenever possible with these types of dishes.

Roasted Vegetables:
While the most common of these dishes is roasted potatoes, there are dozens of vegetables that are perfect for roasting. With just about any of these, you’ll need a wine that will compliment their smoky flavor.

For these types of dishes I would recommend pairing either a brighter wine like Riesling or a smokier wine such as a tempranillo.

Salads:
The most common of vegetable dishes and one of the more difficult to pair with. I would say pay close attention to the main components in the salad (tomatoes, avocados, eggs, etc…) and try to make a decision based on that.

It’s also important to take into consideration the dressing you will be using. A good rule of thumb here is to pair wines like Riesling, Pinot Noir or sauvignon blanc with creamier salad dressings. For intensely vinegar-based dressings you might do well to leave the wine out of the equation altogether. While not impossible to pair, the more vinegary the dressing the more conflict you’ll have with just about any wine.

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