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).
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.
|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|
|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.
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!
Thanks for your great suggestions. I will very happily try all of them 🙂
Betty, thanks for sharing all the great information on wine with vegetarian meals.
My initial reaction to the Mexican dishes was really dark beer! I do drink a pinot noir with cheesy Mexican dishes such as chili relleno.
The beer definitely works, as does a margarita 🙂 But it’s good to know that there are some wines that work well too.
Great post Betty. I will keep your list of suggestions for our undecided and ambivalant times, which is often. Thanks!
Thanks Mike! It’s always good to have a go-to list.
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! 🙂
I’m so glad. Please let me know how the pairing works for you.
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.
oops i meant to type “the taste of wine changes depending on what you are eating”. Sorry
I do that all the time. What’s wrong with saying the taste of wine changes depending on what you’re drinking? 🙂
Tempranillo is the #1 red grape from the Rioja region of Spain. You don’t see too much of it here. It’s a very yummy wine.
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.
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.
Betty, this is an excellent article. What time is dinner??? My mouth is watering and the pairings were fabulous.
🙂 My article tomorrow will focus on Thanksgiving pairings. I hope you enjoy it.
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!
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 🙂
Thanks for this post. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference as well.
You’re welcome, Dorothy. I’m bookmarking it too 🙂
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?
You are right on, Jerry. A Pinot Noir would be great with lentil stew. A not too oaky Chardonnay would work too.
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
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?