January 10, 2023 by Arden Montgomery
Wine to Pair with Vegan Fare
Vegan food gets a bad rap. To those of us who don’t have experience with plant-based cuisine, when we think of animal-free foods we often imagine processed and flavor-minimal meat replacement substances that try (and fail) to pretend to be something they’re not. To individuals who include meat, eggs, and dairy on their plates, these foodstuffs can be uninspiring at best, and repulsive at worst.
But this is a small, small corner of the world of vegan cuisine, which is more often made up of delicious vegetable-based dishes that uplift and celebrate all things leafy, grainy, and fruity with creative preparations and exciting flavor profiles that show off proudly what they’re made of. And complex plant-based dishes beg to be carefully paired with the right wine, as well.
So whether you’re experimenting with more meat-free meals in the new year, or cooking a plant-based dinner for a vegan beloved in the coming season, you can engage this guide to help you find the right vino for your table, whatever happens to be on it.
How to pair wine with vegan food
Vegan cuisine pairing rules follow the same rules as any other animal-centric dish. The wine(s) you choose for your meal should serve as either a complement or a match to whatever is on the plate. Your beverage will act either to balance strong flavors, or to enhance and uplift more delicate ones, allowing both the meal and the wine to shine their brightest on your palate.
Vegan food eschews some of the rules more traditional animal-based pairing techniques assume: for example, you don’t need to worry about taming your medium-rare steak with a high-tannin Cabernet. Beyond these few exceptions, however, pairing wine with plant-based fare can prove intuitive for experienced oenophiles.
High-tannin wines will still comfortably pair with high-fat or very salty foods. Vegan desserts continue to beg for sweeter wines, like Rieslings or Ports. Acidic dishes – anything tomato or citrus forward – should be balanced by acidic white wines, and so on.
In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at a few of our favorite vegan-friendly bottles from the Argaux cellars, to help you find the perfect pair for your next plant-based experience.
Best wine for vegan food
- 2020 Storm Curtis Vineyard Carbonic Cabernet Franc – $32.30
A genre-defiant red, this tannic Cab Franc is so, so drinkable in its final form – effervescent, and longing to be served slightly chilled. Dark, dark red with deep fruits and a selection of peppers on the tongue, this bubbly red can cut through the density of fattier vegan dishes while still supporting any more delicate, herbaceous flavors that might be present. We recommend pairing with a thick linguini smothered in dairy-free basil-cashew pesto.
- 2021 Chateau Barbebelle Aix-en-Provence ‘Héritage’ Rosé – $28
A testament to its terroir, this beautiful pink wine is all fruit and flowers on the palate, invoking an afternoon summer breeze, wafting the perfume of ripe stone fruits and strawberries into every glass. Sommeliers recommend pairing this wine with seafood. We think a plant-based lobster-mushroom risotto would do just as well.
- 2020 Norris Ribbon Ridge Dry Riesling – $35
We love a Riesling that resists the sickly-sweet stereotype, and this one delivers, with a complex green-fruit body that you can practically chew, it’s that palpable. A culinary darling, you can let your imagination run wild with the pairing possibilities for this bottle. Acidic, dry, delicious, we wanna have it with a spicy tomato and chickpea curry.
- 2018 Finca Míllara Ribeira Sacra El Prohibido – $28
Dark greens are a staple in a lot of plant-based dishes, and can be tricky to pair well with wines. Reds make sense, but a tannin-heavy varietal risks bringing out the bitterness of the leaf, rendering the whole thing a little tough to swallow. But if you’re a fan of kale, arugula, chard, and other chewy veggies, this Spanish red will do nicely. Balanced, with minimal tannic presence, this is the wine for fans of vegetables, and anything red.
- 2018 Domaine Alain Burguet Vosne Romanée – $150
It always feels a little wild recommending a more expensive bottle of wine to pair with your salty snacks – but here we are. This divine Pinot Noir bottle is fruit-forward with medium acidity, making it an ideal match for chips, popcorn, vegan cheetos, and other crunchy-savory-finger-dusting foods. Just give it a rest in your cellar for a spot of aging first.
More offerings from Argaux
As long as they’re cooked in a plant-based oil, french fries are 100% vegan. There’s a whole world of plant-based delicacies – from the health-conscious and leafy, to the oily, sweet and indulgent. Did you know that oreos are also vegan? Is there a wine you could pair with them? Hmm, fries, oreos, and a bottle of wine. Sounds like a fun Friday night.
We love wild culinary pairings at Argaux, and that’s why we teamed up with the brilliant Vanessa Price to bring you our Big Macs and Burgundy tasting kit, including a copy of Vanessa’s book: Wine Pairings for the Real World, as well as 2 bottles of premium Vino from the Argaux collection, and a guide to pairing wines with a few of your favorite junk foods – french fries included.
Get a hold of one of these kits, and allow yourself to imagine the possibilities unlocked by plant-based snacking paired with the right wine.