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.