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Wine Pairings for Vegetarian Dishes
Wine Pairings for Vegetarian Dishes

Many of us were taught that white wine goes with fish, and red wine with meat. But what if you are a vegetarian? The good news is that there are all kinds of good wine pairings for vegetarians. As a long-time “pescetarian” who eats dairy products, eggs and fish, I am excited to share some recommendations for wine pairings for vegetarian dishes.

When Doing Wine Pairings for Vegetarian Dishes, Follow the Rules You Always Follow

Just like you do with non-vegetarian food, when you’re doing wine pairings for vegetarian dishes, the goal is to have the wine and the dish complement each other. Ideally, each should accentuate the other.

It’s a Matter of Strength

For a good pairing, you want to make sure that the food and wine have roughly the same strength of flavor. A big, full-bodied red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon might be too powerful for a light salad. Likewise, a delicate white wine could get overpowered by a hefty black bean stew.

Complement or Contrast

For a good pairing, you want to complement or contrast the flavors and textures in the food and wine. An example of a complementary pairing is an earthy Pinot Noir with a wild mushroom risotto. The food and the wine exude earthy, mushroom notes. An example of a contrasting pairing is a crisp, acidic Sauvignon Blanc with a buttery, creamy fish dish. The crisp acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the sauce.

Until the 1980s, the complementary strategy prevailed. In the last 30 years, as people have become more experimental in the kitchen, the contrasting strategy has gained more favor (and flavor).

Some Favorites

Following is a list of some common wine pairings for vegetarian dishes. I’d love for you to try them out and tell me what you think.

Dish Recommended Wines
Mushroom dishes such as vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, porcini mushroom pasta and mushroom risotto Pinot Noir
Red-sauce pizza Zinfandel, Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon
Tomato-based pasta dishes Sangiovese
Other pasta dishes such as eggplant lasagna and cheese tortellini with pesto Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay
Vegetable stir fry Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir
Spicy Asian dishes including Thai, Indian and Chinese Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc or Rosé
Garlic-heavy dishes Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah/Shiraz
Barbecue dishes such as tofu, fish and vegetables Syrah or Merlot
Sushi Sparkling Wine/Champagne
Nachos and other Mexican dishes Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo
Dishes with almonds or walnuts Chardonnay
Macaroni and cheese Chardonnay
Roasted potatoes Tempranillo or Pinot Noir
Salads Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Rosé

These pairing suggestions for vegetarian dishes are meant to inspire experimentation. If you try any of these, please share your thoughts. If you have other suggestions, please share those as well.

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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  1. What a great resource, Betty! I love all your suggestions. May I add that I make a mean cheese fondue and love it with either Chardonnay or a very dry Pinot Grigio. Also – a loaf of really good sourdough bread, creamy, strong Brie or Camembert cheese, and a bottle of French Rose make for a delightful picnic!

  2. Great post Betty. I will keep your list of suggestions for our undecided and ambivalant times, which is often. Thanks!

  3. Betty, your timing is impeccable. I just finished making my veggie stir-fry, now I know that I just must break out the Pinot to go with it! Yum!
    Also, just the thought of wild mushroom risotto with that same Pinot Noir makes my mouth water. Thanks for your suggestions, really gave me some dinner ideas too! 🙂

  4. I love the suggestions and the chart is very helpful, I’ll print it out. I must admit I’ve never heard of a Tempranillo and I drink a lot of wine. It’s always amazing to me how the taste of a particular wine changes depending on what you are drinking.

  5. Hi Betty,

    Reading this made my mouth water! Seems like Pinot goes great with many veggie dishes.

    I love to eat a lot of Thai and spicy Asian dishes, and love a good Riesling or Gewurztraminer with them. I am a major mushroom fan. I am looking forward to my wine tasting with you so I can stock up on some Pinot.

    1. Thanks Jeanine. I can’t wait for your tasting either. We’re going to have a ton of fun. Unfortunately, we’re almost sold out of our Pinot Noir. Hopefully we’ll still have a few bottles available. It’s really good.

  6. I like eating vegetarian now and then, but am not one. I do; however, have vegetarian friends and will share this link with them. Writing about this topic is a great idea because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before! Thank you, once again, Betty for your phenomenal insight about wines!

    1. I hope your vegetarian friends enjoy this. I agree with you that it is much harder to find suggestions for wines that pair well with vegetarian dishes. I’m glad I could help 🙂

  7. Thanks for the suggestions; I am having dinner with a vegetarian friend tomorrow, so this is very helpful indeed. Although you don’t have any pairings based on a lentil stew, I think that based on your list their earthy character might be nicely complimented with a pinot noir. What do you think?

  8. Lentils are also commonly used in Ethiopia in a stew-like dish called kik, or kik wot, one of the dishes people eat with Ethiopia’s national food, injera flat bread. Yellow lentils are used to make a nonspicy stew, which is one of the first solid foods Ethiopian women feed their babies.:^*,

    http://caramoanpackage.comOur own web blog

    1. Thank you so much for that information. I really appreciate it. I’m going to be on the lookout for a recipe for kik. Do you have one you recommend?

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