Are you a vegetarian and a wine lover at the same time? Are you having difficulty choosing which wines are vegetarian-friendly and which kinds of food go well with them? Fret not, because we will help vegetarians like you figure out the art of wine and food pairing.
The skill of wine and food pairing is not something you master overnight. It can get tricky and can take lots of time for one to be well-versed in it. But there are fundamental principles that can be followed to ensure a delightful wine and food pairing.
Wine has long been part of the culture of drinking. In the modern world, sommeliers who are well versed in wine and its quality are highly valued. There are even online conferences and online streaming courses on the delicate work of a sommelier.
People from different countries are trying to get on such streams and even use VPN to unblock location restrictions on streams. But still, not everyone knows how to pair wine and food.
The Basics of Wine Pairing
When pairing wine with food, there are essential components that you should know. It will help you better understand the wine's complexity and reaction to the dishes’ different flavors.
A great pairing is one in which you balance out both side’s attributes so that neither one overshadows or underwhelms the other - rather, complementing each other while still highlighting their strengths as individual parts of an experience.
The five basic wine characteristics are sweetness, acidity, tannin levels, alcohol content, and body. Sweetness is the residual sugar present in wine, while acidity produces wine’s tart and crisp flavor.
Tannins are polyphenols found on grape skins and seeds, producing dryness when drinking wines. The alcohol is the burning feeling you get in your throat and is made from the yeast's conversion of grape sugar into ethanol.
The body of wine refers to how heavy it feels within one's mouth. Lighter wines have more acidity, while fuller-bodied ones tend to be less acidic with heavier tannins and higher alcohol levels but are generally sweeter.
The Principles of Wine Pairing
There are two main approaches to wine pairings: congruent and complementary.
In a congruent pairing, the food and the wine have strong flavor overlaps, which intensifies these qualities in both flavors. There is only a slight similarity of flavor profiles with complementary pairings, creating contrast and balance.
Wine and Food Pairing Based on the Food's Dominant Flavor
When pairing based on the food's prevalent flavor, it is advisable to match them congruently. Partner light wines with light foods and bolder wines with heavier dishes. You should pair weight with weight if you are doing it this way.
For example, acidic foods like balsamic vinaigrette would taste nicely with highly acidic wines. Sweet foods like cakes, cookies, and ice creams should be matched with sweet wines because a dry wine will taste bitter next to a sweet taste.
An exception to this would be for flavors that are very intense or strong. For instance, spicy dishes like salsa and curries should be taken with sweet or low-alcohol wines to balance the burning feeling of the spiciness.
Lastly, bitter foods like kale and grapefruit are best consumed with low or no-tannin wines to prevent accentuating the bitterness.
Wine and Food Pairing Based on the Type of Vegetable
The same principle applies when pairing vegetarian foods with wine. The central aspect to look at is still in the most prominent flavor of the vegetarian dish. But in general, certain kinds of vegetables pair well with certain types of wines.
Dishes that are nutty or have dominant peanuts or almond flavors best pair with rosé or dessert wines. Allium plants like garlic and onions, on the other hand, are flexible and would pair with almost any type of wine.
What Wine Goes with Vegetarian Dishes?
When choosing wines and deciding to read about which ones will go with your favorite food, you may be disappointed when you see recommendations for combining wine with meat dishes.
The best way for you is to experiment with pairing wines with sauces, spices, and herbs that you will use in your food. For instance, the combination of white wine, Aligote, is excellent with citrus sauces and nuts in your meals.
If you are one of those who shop online and love rare and sometimes collectible wines, pay attention to Milestii Mici Aligote, which has a slight bitterness and goes well with slightly sweet dishes.
What Do Vegetarians Eat with White Wine?
When we talk about vegetable dishes, think about how each ingredient tastes to find the best wine. If we talk mainly about greens in your food, the ideal choice would be the white wine Sauvignon Blanc. Things like carrots or any kind of cabbage will be the perfect match for Chenin Blanc white wine.
But what if you are a lover of beets and decide to use them in your food today? Start your searching for delicious dry Riesling wine.
The combination of food and vegetarian wine recipes can be unpredictable and depends on how much you enjoy exploring the world of flavors. Know that there are general concepts, but what you choose for dinner with white wine is always up to you.
What Vegetarian Food Goes Well with Red Wine?
So, let's move on to red wine and consider new taste sensations. As we all know, it is a long-standing tradition to consume red wine to increase appetite. You have prepared a dish dominated by bell peppers and aubergine or simply grilled them. What to drink in this case?
Vegetarian red wine preferences will tell us that Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is the best choice. We highly recommend that you do this trick. If you bought Merlot and still haven't drunk it, bake the potatoes, serve it with peanut sauce and place your perfect bottle of red wine on the table.
Once again, we remind you that sauces are intermediaries between vegetarian food and wine, so feel free to act and experiment with every dish!
Vegetarian Food and Wine Pairings FAQ
1. Can vegetarians drink wine?
Yes, you can! Some wines do not have animal products in them, and that is undoubtedly a vegetarian-friendly beverage. Although, ultimately, this is a personal choice, and you can choose only to consume wines in moderation or on occasions.
2. Which wines are vegetarian-friendly?
A wine is considered vegetarian-friendly when there are no animal products present in it. Many winemakers use “fining agents” on their wines, and these contain animal products, which will then make the wine non-vegetarian.
Winemakers use these fining agents to “fine” the wine to remove any residual hazy particles, skipping the waiting time and making the wine ready to be distributed to the market.
3. What animal products are used in the winemaking process?
Potential fining agents include gelatin (animal protein), isinglass (fish bladder protein), protease (animal protein), and chitosan (carbohydrate derived from crustacean shells). It is also worth noting that after the wines are fined, they are filtered again to remove the remaining unwanted particles.
It means that it is likely that most of the animal-based products are gone before the wine is bottled. However, some of it inevitably remains. That thought alone is challenging to take for vegetarians, and not everyone is okay to take that risk.
4. What brands of wines are vegetarian-friendly?
Some popular vegetarian-friendly brands include Bellissima Prosecco, Cycles Gladiator, Decoy Wines, Fat Cat Wines, Frey Vineyards, La Crema, and Layer Cake Wines, Les Jamelles, Lumos Wine, Meiomi, and Moët & Chandon Champagne.
Great Wine and Food Combinations Depend on Your Imagination
We are passionate connoisseurs of all types of wines and can find the perfect combination even for those dishes that you would not expect to enjoy. It doesn't matter if you decide to prepare a vegetarian lasagna or grilled vegetables; there is a wine that will leave an unforgettable impression for each of you.
You can also focus on creating your wine and food pairings! Don't follow patterns and statements, but take them as a basis for your creative process and create your own taste magic.
Buy several bottles of different wines, cook two or three of your favorite dishes, gather a group of friends, and taste each of them combined with a new sip of wine. Sounds amazing, right?