Wine and Food pairing can be difficult and daunting for some but I am here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be! Remember it’s all about what YOU like! Think of the food and the wine as complementing one another and bringing out the best qualities and attributes in each other! Pairings work when the food makes the wine taste better, and the wine makes the food taste better. If one or the other is more dominant, it is an uneven match.
You often hear about classic pairings such as a big juicy steak and Cabernet Sauvignon but I am here to tell you that there are some fabulous wine and food pairings with vegan and vegetarian food as well! Before I dive into some recommendations for specific vegetables, I am going to share what I think are the 3 most important points when it comes to wine and food pairing:
1. The wine should be more acidic than the food.
2. The wine should be sweeter than the food.
3. Drink what you LIKE!
When it comes to proper wine and food pairing, I am all about ACIDITY! So what exactly is acidity? Acidity in wine comes from tartaric, malic, and citric acid from the grapes. Acidity is responsible for the perceived tartness or crispness in wine. As grapes ripen, they become less acidic (and more sugary). Therefore, wines from cooler climates are typically more acidic because the grapes have a difficult time ripening in the cooler temperatures.
Having acid in wine is KEY to pairing wines with veggies! Without the acidity, some veggies will cause the wines to taste bitter and flabby and no one wants that in a wine!
Here is a general guideline for pairing different groups of vegetables with wines:
Green Vegetables: avocados, kale, broccoli, green beans
~ Pair with sparkling or light whites
Root Vegetables: carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato
~ Pair with full-bodied white, aromatic white, rosé, or light red
Nightshades: tomato, eggplant, bell peppers
~ Pair with aromatic white, rosé, medium red, full-bodied red
Beans: black, lentil, pinto, white, you name it- all the beans!
~ Pair with sparkling, rosé, light red, medium red
Fungi: Chanterelle, cremini, maitake, shiitake
~ Pair with full-bodied white, light red, medium red, full-bodied red
Nuts: peanut, almond, pecan, cashew
~ Pair with aromatic white, rosé, or dessert wine
Fresh Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley
~ Pair with sparkling wine, light white, full-bodied white, aromatic white, rosé, light red
Peppers: chipotle, chili, ancho
~ Pair with sparkling wine, aromatic white, rosé, or medium red
Alliums: garlic, onion, shallots
~ Will pair with almost anything!
Tricky/Impossible Vegetable Pairings:
Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes! These vegetables are exceptionally challenging to pair with wine. There are certain chemical compounds within the vegetables that can actually change the perception and enjoyment of the accompanying wine. It literally makes the wine taste flabby & flat. Beer is always a viable option, but if you’d rather sip wine, opt for these choices:
• Asparagus – Grüner Veltliner or Sancerre
• Brussels Sprouts – Sauvignon Blanc or dry Chenin Blanc
• Artichokes – Champagne or a dry rosé (especially one from Tavel, France)
Some of my favorite veggie dishes with wine pairings:
- Mushrooms and Pinot Noir
- Veggie Sushi Rolls with Rosé Bubbles
- Veggie & Tofu Coconut Curry with Riesling
- Leafy greens and salads, with Champagne, or dry, minerally rosé wines and high-acid whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner