Many of us are eating less and less meat and with it being National Vegetarian Week we thought it’s about time we tackled wine with veggie meals.
Unlike your meat ‘n’ two veg scenario it’s likely that a vegetarian dish will have a lot more ingredients going on, this might seem like a harder nut to crack with regards to pairing, but the trick to success is to think about the dish as a whole.
1. LIGHT DISHES AND SALADS
Hardly the inspirational end of veggie cuisine but if you are digging into salad or fresh greens there is a perfect combination. Sauvignon Blanc has a naturally ‘green’ flavour, sometimes described as gooseberry or even asparagus-like. It’s zippy, citrus acidity matches well with dressings and vinaigrettes plus if you’ve treated yourself to a white cheese like feta, mozzarella or goat’s cheese, Sauv Blanc is a perfect choice.
2. CREAMY DISHES
A creamy pasta or risotto dish presents the opportunity to compliment or contrast with your wine. Take Chardonnay, a warmer climate Chard with rich creamy flavours and a touch of oak ageing will take you off to a dairy based heaven. A cooler climate, unoaked Chardonnay will offer enough flavour to stand up to the dish, as well as a crisp acidity that acts like a palette cleanser to refresh any ‘clagginess’... yeh that’s a word we’re using.
3. NUTS, MUSHROOMS & LENTILS
‘Earthy’ dishes like lentil or bean based stews, or garlic mushrooms might seem like a tough pairing. However many grape varieties have similar flavours hidden amongst the fruit. Most commonly Pinot Noir is considered to have a savoury side to it but also Sangiovese (Chianti) and Nebbiolo (Barolo). Also, Syrah from cooler climates is often described as having ‘black olive’ flavours.
Yes they get their own special mention. Whether it’s veggie Lasagne, Moussaka or any pasta sauce, it’s often easy to forget that tomatoes are a pretty powerful flavour, and are particularly high in acidity. That means high acid reds like Sangiovese & Grenache are a good place to start. Also salt. A well seasoned tomato sauce will not only relax the acidity, but bring out the flavour of the wine.
5. MEAT ALTERNATIVES
Whatever your choice of meat alternative, the proteins in them act in just the same way as red meat when it comes to pairing with wine. Tannins, the bitter flavours red wine gets from its skins, are broken down by protein. This makes the wine taste smoother and fruitier. So don’t be afraid to try big bold reds like Cabernet, Shiraz or Primitivo.