Many of us were taught that white wine goes with fish, and red wine with meat. But what if you are a vegetarian? Does that mean there is no wine pairing for you? Absolutely not! I am a long-time “pescetarian” who eats dairy products, eggs and fish, and I have some great wine pairings to recommend for vegetarians based on my experience.
Wine Pairings Suggestions for Vegetarians
The goal for pairing vegetarian dishes with wine is the same as pairing non-vegetarian dishes with wine. The wine and the dish should 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 vegetarian dishes and suggested pairings. Try them out and see what you think.
|Mushroom dishes (e.g., vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, mushroom bisque, mushroom risotto)||Pinot Noir|
|Pizza||Zinfandel, Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Tomato-based pasta dishes||Sangiovese|
|Other pasta dishes (e.g., eggplant lasagna, 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 (e.g., tofu, fish, 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 vegetarians are meant to inspire experimentation. I would love to hear what you think of them. I would also love to hear your suggestions for wine pairings for other vegetarian dishes.