wine education > How to pair vegetarian dishes with wine
Contrary to common belief, wine can be an excellent complement to vegetarian meals. Here's how to do it right.
When it comes to food and wine pairings, vegetarian dishes are typically overlooked; a thick, juicy steak is the perfect match to red wine, and chicken or fish must be served with white wine. But as our eating habits change and we become more mindful of what we eat, vegetables are starting to take centre stage at the table. A recent trend is to have a meat-free meal at least one day a week, like ‘Meatless Mondays’, for the full time meat eaters among us, that is.
If you’re finding yourself more into veggies than meat these days, or are in fact vegetarian, you don’t have to feel limited in the choice of wine to have with your meal, nor treat a vegetable-only dish as a side. Follow our tips on choosing the right wine to complement your dish, and try out some recipes that pair beautifully with wine. No meat required.
Choose wine that shares or complements the characteristics of the vegetables you’re using in your meal
Wine is often described through its natural flavours so use this as a guide to determine what will pair well with your vegetable dish. Tomatoes are high in acidity so it can be paired with wine that is similarly acidic, like Pinot Noir, while earthy vegetables such as mushrooms and lentils can stand up to a strong flavoured wine like Shiraz. Alternatively, you can choose wines that contrast, such as Riesling with dark leafy greens and chilies. The fruity notes often found in wines can be another factor to consider; think about how the taste of cherries, black currants or plums can enhance the vegetal flavours in your dish.
Take into account how the dish is cooked
Consider also how you’re cooking your vegetables and the spices you’re adding to achieve the dominant flavour of your dish, for example, whether it’s sour, creamy or spicy. One of our favourite vegetarian dishes is grilled mushrooms with goat’s cheese and parmesan paired with Double Barrel Shiraz as the smokiness in the dish complements the whisky finish in the wine. Another consideration is the amount of cooking required in your dish; a vegetable stew has the same robust flavours as a meat dish and can stand up to a gutsy blend like Cabernet Sauvignon, while steamed veggies need a lighter wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Don’t just stick to white wines or sparkling
There’s a common misconception that only lighter bodied wines can complement vegetables, but with the above tips in mind, bold reds can absolutely be a great match for vegetarian dishes. Vegetables, like wine, have taste profiles that can vary quite differently depending on the flavours they’re mixed with, so use this to your advantage when matching them together. The key is to discover pairings that highlight flavours in both the wine and the food you’re having.
Try these delicious vegetarian recipes with our recommended wine pairing:
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