Vegan Food and Wine Pairings
Interest in vegan food and plant-based eating is on the rise across the UK. Increasingly popular challenges like Veganuary and trends like Meatless Monday show that many of us are taking a greater interest in this way of eating. Even if you’re not fully vegan, you may still be wondering which wines pair best with vegan or plant-based food. All about vegan food and wine, this blog post aims to answer that exact question.
Vegan Food and Wine Pairings: The Basics
When it comes to pairing wine with vegan food, it really depends on what you’re eating! Vegan and plant-based food can come in a range of styles and flavours. For example, you can have something crisp and light like a salad, or something more rich and umami, like a creamy mushroom or aubergine dish. The wines that go best with each of these vegan dishes will differ.
When choosing the right wine for your vegan food, here are some questions to ask:
- Which vegetable dominates your dish? Vegetable characteristics vary, and different vegetables pair better with different wines.
- Does your food contain meat substitutes or legumes/beans? These dishes tend to be richer, and thus require a different pairing.
- Is your food spicy or sweet at all? You’ll generally want a wine that’s sweeter than your food.
- Is your food fatty or deep fried? This matters too.
Vegan Wines for Vegan Food – is wine OK for vegans?
Yes, wine is definitely ok for vegans! Some good news is that a lot of the organic wines we sell also happen to be vegan. This essentially means that no animal products are used during the fining process when the wines are made. So if you’re looking for vegan wines to pair with your vegan dishes, you’re in good hands! All of our wines are also 100% organic.
If you’re looking for organic vegan wines specifically, you can find them all here under ‘Speciality’. If you’re looking at a wine on our site, you can also tell whether it’s vegan friendly or not by looking out for our ‘VG’ symbol.
What wines go well with vegan food? And what vegan food goes with wine?
The short answer is that a variety of wines go well with vegan food, and plenty of vegan dishes can also go with wine. To answer these two questions in more detail, let’s unpack the questions above to help you decide which wine to pair with your vegan food. The bottom of this blog post also has a list of popular vegan dishes (veggie burgers, pasta, etc) and wine pairing ideas.
Vegan Food and Wine: Which vegetable dominates your dish?
Vegan and plant-based foods tend to be more centered around vegetables, and there are A LOT of veggies to pick from! As you know, however, not all vegetables taste the same. Eating a salad can be totally different from eating a rich vegan baked aubergine dish, for example.
Wines for green vegetables
For green vegetables (salads, peas, green beans, etc) opt for a lighter, crisp white or maybe even a rosé. For salad wines, this crisp Sauvignon Blanc and uplifting Pinot Grigio would pair well with a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing:
Peas are a popular veg in the UK. For pea dishes or a pea risotto, a lighter-bodied reliable white like this Chardonnay & Inzolia here would be a good choice:
Wines for cruciferous vegetables
For dishes made from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc: also opt for lighter-bodied whites. You may also get away with a rosé or lighter-bodied red depending on the dish. This slightly oak-aged wild ferment Verdejo would pair nicely with cauliflower (and vegan cheese), for example:
And a quality Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon for a broccoli-dominant pasta or rice dish:
Wines for harvest vegetables
For richer harvest vegetables like yams/sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, etc … these vegetables tend to have a level of sweetness to them. Opt for sparkling wines, whites (light to full-bodied) and rosés once again. Here are two organic white wines – a tasty Viognier and Gros Manseng – to pair with squash or sweet potato dishes:
And for a red to go with squash or sweet potato dishes, this organic red (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) from the Rhône Valley is a great choice too:
Wines for nightshade vegetables
For nightshade vegetables like the ever-popular tomato, aubergine and sweet pepper: go for a light-medium-bodied red wine, or even a light-bodied white or rosé too depending on the dish. For tomato-based dishes specifically, medium-bodied reds wine with more acidity (to match the acidity in the tomatoes) is usually a more popular choice. Here are two flavourful Italian wines that suit tomato-based vegan dishes (any tomato pasta, lasagna, etc) wonderfully:
Wines for legumes
For legumes (all types of beans, lentils): Generally speaking, reds are a better choice, especially for richer legume dishes (lentil stews, bean casseroles, etc.). However, for legumes like chickpeas or for spicier curry-type dishes with legumes, whites or rosés work too. For a lentil or butter bean stew, this smooth 70 Merlot/30% Refosco is recommended:
For a spicy vegan curry, opt for something on the sweeter side, such as this lower-alcohol Kabinett Riesling:
For a chickpea salad or chickpea burgers, a crisp white or rosé is a better choice, such as this rosé from Domaine Bousquet.
Wines for mushrooms/fungi
For mushrooms/fungi: mushrooms and fungi are quite common in vegan and plant-based dishes. For this vegetable, it often depends on the sauce … for a creamy mushroom sauce dish, a fuller-bodied white like this no-sulphur-added Chardonnay would be a good choice.
Mushrooms and tomatoes are a popular combination – but the flavour from the tomatoes will tend to dominate, so any of the wines suggested for tomato-based dishes above would suit tomato and mushroom dishes.
Vegan Food and Wine: Does your food contain meat substitutes or legumes?
A general rule of thumb here is to pair your meat substitute in the same way you would the original thing. Plant protein textured veggie burgers (ie soy, pea protein ones, etc) and lentils and beans can most likely handle the tannins of a medium to full-bodied red. However, if you’re eating mock chicken, for example, opt for a white or rosé. For tofu, it really depends what you put it with. A mushroom tofu dish, for example, can likely handle a red, but for tofu stir fry with green vegetables you’d likely be better off with a white wine.
Vegan Food and Wine: How spicy or sweet is your food?
Another rule of thumb here is to select a wine that has more sweetness than your dish. So for something like a spicy vegetable curry, opt for a sweeter wine, like a sweeter Riesling or Gewurztraminer. For sweet vegan desserts, choose a dessert wine.
Vegan Food and Wine: Is your food deep-fried or fatty?
This is another important factor. If your food is deep fried (or fatty/greasy), crisp acidic whites are usually recommendd to balance out the flavours in the food and wine. Both still whites or sparkling whites (like Prosecco or other sparkling wines) are good choices for fattier foods.
Which red wine goes with vegan food?
We know that there are many wine drinkers who prefer to just drink red wine. When it comes to which red wines to pair with vegan food, the answer really depends on the dish! If your dish has vegetables and lighter proteins like tofu or tempeh, opt for lighter-bodied reds, such as a Pinot Noir, Carménère, lighter Cabernet Francs, etc. If your dish has meat substitutes or legumes, however, it can most likely handle the tannins of a medium to full-bodied red. This would include reds like Merlots, Malbecs, Montepulciano, Rhône reds, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Grenache/Garnacha, Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignons, Shiraz/Syrah … a lot to pick from!
Remember: Personal preferences are key!
When it comes to choosing the right wine for vegan food – or any food that is – it’s also very important to consider your unique personal preferences. While these are some of the basics when it comes to vegan food and wine pairings, people do have different sensitivities to flavours and aromas in food and wines. If you have a favourite wine, it very well may work with your favourite dish. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your wine and food combinations to find out what you tend to prefer.
Popular vegan food and wine pairings to try
Still looking for ideas? Here are some go-to vegan food and wine combinations that are often considered reliable … and delicious!
- Raw vegetable dishes (salads, veggies and dips, etc): opt for a crisp white or rosé
- Vegan (meat substitute) veggie burgers: a Malbec or Merlot
- Vegetable lasagna with tomato sauce/tomato-based pasta dishes/aubergine tomato dishes: most Italian reds are suited
- Lentil or butterbean stew: if it has a lot of tomatoes, pair as you would a tomato-based dish, or go for a med-full bodied red wine
- A spicy curry: a sweeter Riesling or Gewurztraminer
- BBQ’d veggies (courgettes, peppers, etc): anything to match the smoky notes in your food would work, try a Carménère or an oak-aged Malbec or Merlot or even a Pinot Noir or a white wine as well
- Vegan cheeses: it really depends on the flavour of your vegan cheese, but you can try to match your vegan cheese as you would regular cheese. For more info about wine and cheese pairings, visit our wine and cheese blog post here
- Vegan desserts: any dessert wine
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to vegan food and wine and that it’s given you helpful food for thought about vegan food and wine pairings!