11 Ways to Pair Wine and Vegan Food

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Two people toasting with glasses of white wine

Classically, food and wine pairing tends to focus on bringing together complementary flavors — usually centered around a meat dish. If you’ve read about wine pairing, chances are you’ve seen plenty of tips for choosing the perfect wine to bring out the flavors of chicken, pork, and beef. However, if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or simply enjoy a vegan dish now and again, you may be wondering how to pair your favorite plant-based foods with a great glass of wine. After all, many plant-eaters often enjoy a transcendent glass of wine as much as their meat-eating friends. 

Veganism and the popularity of vegan food has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the past decade, with no signs of slowing down. Whether you’re dabbling in a few vegan dishes or leading a life free of animal products, you’ll want to learn the ropes of wine and vegan food pairing. 

Vegan Food and Wine Pairing 101

With the boost in vegan popularity has come a boom of varieties of vegan foods. With so many choices, here are some wine-food-pairing basics to get you started:

  • Pair acidic foods with acidic wines.
  • Acidic or sparkling wines go well with fatty or fried foods.
  • Choose sweeter wines with less alcohol with spicy foods.
  • Sweet wines work well with desserts and sweet treats.
  • Tannin-heavy reds work well with salty dishes.
  • Use acidic or sparkling wines to balance heavy, fatty, or fried foods.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “What grows together goes together?” If you haven’t, this is a mantra you will want to keep in your back pocket while learning how to pair wine with your favorite animal-friendly dishes.

11 Vegan Food and Wine Pairing Ideas

Keeping the basics of food and wine pairing in mind, here are 11 herbivorous food and wine pairing ideas for a delicious and complete plant-based meal:

1. Tomatoes and Italian Wine

Quite simply, you can’t go wrong when you pair your tomato-heavy dishes with an Italian red. The acidity of a classic Italian red wine interacts beautifully with the acidity of the tomato. So, if you’re enjoying a homemade vegan pizza, go for a rich Sangiovese.

2. Pesto and Pinot Grigio

Who doesn’t love the rustic herb flavors of a great pesto dish? This earthy meal pairs well with a crisp white. If you’re whipping up a pesto pasta dish, you can’t go wrong with an Italian white wine like a classic Pinot Grigio.

3. Olive Spaghetti and Syrah

If you’re craving an olive-centric dish, like a vegan spaghetti with olives, opt for a deep, rich Syrah to balance things out.

4. Mushrooms Two-Ways with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir

Mushrooms vary widely in flavor profiles, and, as such, so do their pairings. For example, a creamy vegan mushroom risotto — which is as dreamy as it sounds — works well with the light oak notes of a great Chardonnay. However, the strong flavor of garlic sauteed mushrooms is a lovely partner for a good Pinot Noir.

5. Tempranillo with Bean and Lentil Chili 

Bean and lentil dishes are a staple of vegan eating, but this meal doesn’t have to be boring! Try pairing a hearty vegan bean and lentil chili with a bold Spanish Tempranillo for an all-around adventurous dish.

6.  Merlot and Tofu Stir-Fry 

Tofu is another staple of vegan dining, one that lends itself well to Asian flavor profiles — like a tofu stir-fry. Pair with a fruity red, like a new world Merlot from South Africa, to interact with the heavy soy flavors of the dish.

7. Riesling and Curry

Craving curry? Curry is a vegan dish that many people enjoy regardless of their culinary persuasions. Thai red curry and vegetables is a memorable dish that pairs well with a refreshing Riesling. The bright flavor balances out the spices of this dish for a satisfying vegan meal.

Keep in mind that wines that are high in alcohol will amplify the spice of this dish in a negative way.

8. Salads and White Wine

While salads are perhaps the most stock vegan mainstay, they don’t have to be boring! Try an Italian chopped salad with a nice, round Sauvignon Blanc for a weeknight meal that is anything but dull.  

Take into consideration the type of dressing you include on your salad. Vinegar-forward dressings are difficult to pair. On the other hand, fruit-centered salads play nicely with a beautiful Chardonnay.

9. Asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc

While asparagus is notoriously tricky to pair, a good rule of thumb is to rely on a classic — Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc complements the grassy flavor of the asparagus. Pair a creamy vegan lemon asparagus pasta with Sauvignon Blanc for an instant classic.

10. Ratatouille and Cabernet Sauvignon

For a satisfying seasonal meal, pair a baked ratatouille dish with a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold cab will interact with the vegan butter and fresh bread in a big way.

11. Chocolate and Port 

If you’re craving something sweet, whip up a batch of rich raw vegan chocolate. Pair with walnuts and a charming Port for an indulgent end to a quality vegan meal. Port is a classic dessert wine that plays well with after-dinner treats. 

Finding the Best Wine for a Vegan Feast

When it comes to eating vegan, there are more and more choices of satisfying and sustainable dishes to align with a diversity of tastes and cravings. Fortunately, there is a long list of wines that elevate your favorite dishes — so that you can create the carefully balanced meals of your vegan dreams.

There are many people who remain unaware of the rich and satisfying world of vegan meals, but as you wait for them to recognize the merits of a plant-based diet, you might as well enjoy a nice glass of wine in the meantime.

If you’re ready to seek out the perfect final touch for your vegan menu, JJ Buckley can help you find the right fit. No matter what you’re whipping up in the kitchen, our knowledgeable consultants can help you procure the perfect bottles of wine to meet your culinary needs.

With an extensive selection of wines from around the world, JJ Buckley Fine Wines undoubtedly has the best wines to pair with your next vegan meal.