Written By Jen Huether, MS and Priya Rao of The Social Herbivore
The number one diet trend in North America right now is veganism, though the term ‘plant-based’ is more commonly associated with the diet. True ‘vegans’ would refer to their choice as a lifestyle rather than a diet. And, while most of us would assume all wines are vegan, in fact, they’re not!
When we launched The Social Herbivore a few years ago, no one was talking about vegan wine, and now it’s become a massive trend with plant-based restaurants opening in record numbers, plant-based foods taking up more space on grocery shelves, and, of course, with the public becoming more informed and demanding more earth-friendly vino. This was the driving force behind us writing The Social Herbivore: Perfect Pairings for Plant-Based Cuisine, the world’s first book on wine and vegan food.
The question we get often is: ‘which wines pair well with vegan food’? While the bigger, more tannic red wines can be challenging as the fats and proteins in plant-based dishes are different, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid red wine altogether. Many hearty plant-based meals can stand up to bolder wines. However, in doing our research in the test kitchen and trying various varietals with the recipes in our book, we came back again and again to a select number of wines that seemed to be perfect pairings.
With that in mind, here are the five types of wine that we feel every plant-based foodie needs to have in their cellar at all times. And what’s good news, they’re wines that can be bought for under $25:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
These white wines are so incredibly versatile for anything that has strong green elements. Think of salads, artichokes, stuffed green bell peppers and green pea risotto for example. Sauvignon blancs have green notes in them, and they also have vibrant acidity, which makes them excellent for appetizers also.
German Kabinett Riesling
These white wines are lower in alcohol and generally have a touch of residual sugar which makes them perfect for heat and spice. Think of spicy dishes such as Jamaican Jerk, Thai dishes and Indian food. The last thing you want to do is add to the heat with a wine that has high alcohol levels. The sweetness of these wines help soothe the palate and balances these dishes perfectly.
When dishes are heavier, creamy and/or have cheesy elements, these work perfectly. Rich and creamy works so well with richer chardonnays like those produced in sunny California. The weight and texture are echoed by the weight, texture and creaminess of these sun-kissed wines. Look for wines that have had some oak-aging for a happy match.
More than any other wine we have found time and time again that the versatility of the gamay grape from southern Burgundy in France works. These red wines have vibrant acidity and an intriguing earthiness coupled with red fruits. Match with mushroom-based dishes, vegan cheese and charcuterie, soups and casseroles with faux meat products. It’s a great go-to!
These rosés are not only some of my favourite on planet earth, they work with such a variety of plant-based foods. Rosés from beautiful Provence are bone dry, crisp and have almost a saltiness but with decent body. They work with an incredible array of appetizers but are serious enough to work with the main course. Think of most things you can do with tofu, vegan cheese and tomato-based dishes.
Gone are the days when wine pairing talk consists of red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. The options for diners who choose to enjoy an occasional plant-based meal or who want to move towards a plant-based lifestyle are growing every day.
Cheers to perfect pairings for all palates!