I am asked more and more about wine pairing suggestions for vegetarian foods.
When we consider nonvegetarian pairings, the general rules of old are relativity easy to follow: red wine with red meat, white wine with fish. However, vegetarian dishes tend to be a bit more complicated than simply considering the main protein. But if you focus on a few key ingredients and the style of cuisine it’s easy to come up with a delicious wine match.
CONSIDER THE PROTEIN
What kind of protein does the dish include? It isn’t uncommon these days to find plant-based proteins masquerading convincingly as meat. I recently attended a dinner party where the hostess had prepared a plant-based sausage pizza paired with a nice Chianti. The pizza’s taste was so convincing as real sausage one guest was upset.
In the case of faux meats, use the general pairing guidelines of meats with more weight with red wine. For lighter proteins, such as tofu or plant-based “fish” white wine may be a better match.
- 2016 Voga Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $12 retail)
- 2016 Broadside Wild Ferment Chardonnay, California (about $16 retail)
WHEN VEGETABLES STAR
Is there one vegetable that dominates the dish? Many vegetarian dishes will have a vegetable as the star ingredient. These are a few safe pairings to use for some of the key vegetables used in many dishes: mushrooms and pinot noir, eggplant and cabernet sauvignon, potatoes or risotto and chardonnay, and roasted vegetables and merlot.
- 2016 Bogle Vineyards Merlot, California (about $12 retail)
- 2016 Sean Minor Pinot Noir, California (about $20 retail)
Is the recipe based on the cuisine of a specific country or region? This is an easy pairing because you can generally go back to the basic rule of pairing food and wine from the same region. Italian food with Chianti or pinot grigio, tapas with garnacha or albarino. It gets complicated when the cuisine doesn’t have a corresponding wine as is the case with Chinese, Thai, Indian and Mexican. In these examples, think of the spices and look to wines that play well with spicy foods such as Riesling, gewurztraminer or chardonnay.
- 2016 Los Rocas Garnacha, Spain (about $14 retail)
- 2016 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, France (about $30 retail)