Ideas For Pairing Vegan Food And Wine

Veganism is becoming increasingly popular - back in 2014, there were around 150,000 vegans in the UK, and this number rose to over 600,000 in 2019 and is likely to be even larger in 2021.

You may be surprised to learn that most wine isn’t vegan-friendly - especially as it isn’t always included on the labels.

Wine becomes non-vegan in the fining process, where animal products are used as fining agents - however, due to the increase in demand, there are countless vegan wine options no matter your preference.

If you’re a vegan and you love wine, you’re in luck - keep reading to learn about the best food pairings for vegan food and wine.

 

What Is Vegan Wine?

Vegan wine is wine that doesn’t include or hasn’t touched any animal products.

Although wine is essentially grapes and yeast, animal products are often added during the fining process.

Firstly, the wine ferments - this is the stage of the winemaking process where alcohol is produced.

The naturally occurring sugars in the grapes get consumed by yeast, producing heat, bubbles, and of course, alcohol.

When the wine ferments, it can turn the wine cloudy with sediment floating in the wine - this is completely natural and safe to consume, but most people prefer a clearer wine.

This is why most vintners then put the wine through the fining process, to it the smooth and clear look we know and love.

Fining the wine can also stabilise the wine and eliminate any unwanted aromas and textures, but most fining agents contain animal products, such as:

  • Gelatin
  • Casein (milk protein)
  • Blood
  • Bone marrow
  • Egg whites
  • Fish bladder gelatin
  • Fish oil
  • Chitin (crustacean shell fibres)

 

Even though the fining agents either get evaporated or filtered out at the end of the fining process, wine fined using animal products are not vegan.

The good news is that if you like your wine fined, then cruelty-free alternatives can be used as fining agents, such as:

  • Silica gel
  • Silica claty
  • Pea gelatine
  • Kaolin (clay mineral)
  • Kieselguhr (sedimentary rock)

 

Vegan wine is just as tasty as regular wine - however, you might notice a difference in taste and texture if you choose an unfined wine.

This is because the wine has been fined naturally by gravity, and it can leave the wine tasting thicker and slightly less smooth.

 

Vegan Food And Wine Pairings

Thanks to the huge surge in veganism, there are countless delicious vegan foods out there that pair perfectly with wine. Here are some tips for pairing wine with vegan food.

 

Sweet Wines

First of all, sweet wines pair perfectly with desserts, puddings, and fruit. Caramel, vanilla, coconut, and butterscotch are sure to complement your sweet wine.

Sweeter wines can also pair well with spicy foods - however, the more alcohol the wine has, the less it will pair with spicy foods.

If you’re a fan of spicy food and sweet wines, you’ll be glad to know that a glass of riesling can truly complement a Thai red curry (with vegetables).

The bright flavour does a great job of balancing out the spice in this dish, pairing perfectly together.

Chocolate and a sweet Port can be a great pairing - but don’t worry, there are countless vegan chocolate options out there. Port is a classic dessert wine that pairs with any sweet after-dinner treats.

Ice wine is a sweet wine that’s also pretty intense, so you may think that it would be difficult to pair with vegan food.

However, you’ll be glad to know that lighter, fruit-based desserts pair well with this frozen-grape wine.

If you can get your hands on vegan cheese you’re also in luck, as stronger cheeses can pair well with Ice Wine.

A fruity and floral glass of Moscato can make a great food pairing with Lebanese food as well as fragrant, spicy foods. It’s a versatile wine that can pair with foods that aren’t too heavy.

 

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines and acidic wines pair well with fried or fatty foods, as it can balance the taste perfectly.

Fried tofu and champagne can make a delicious pairing - and pickled peppers added to the batter can taste even better.

It’s not just champagne that pairs well with fried chicken - other sparkling wines can taste just as great, and harmonise with your tofu while bringing out the delicious flavours.

If you want to balance heavy or fatty foods, sparkling wine is your best pairing option.

Sparkling wines can also pair well with desserts - for example, vegan shortbread.

The acidity in sparkling wine brings out the buttery richness of the shortbread, making for a great food pairing.

Other vegan butter-based dishes such as buttercream sauce or buttered popcorn can also make an excellent pairing with any sparkling wine.

Vegan butter is easily accessible and can be found in most local supermarkets.

 

White Wines

Wine generally pairs best with food from the local area, and white wines such as Pinot Grigio are no exception.

Pinot Grigio is widely produced in the North East Coast of Italy and naturally pairs well with dishes local to the area.

Tomato and basil based dishes and Pinot Grigio can also pair perfectly together, along with other vegetables.

Although you may not have considered asparagus as a wine pairing, it surprisingly pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc.

The high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc complements the grassy, natural flavour of asparagus.

Why not try a creamy asparagus pasta, or a meat substitute and asparagus dinner?

It’s not just asparagus that pairs with Sauvignon Blanc - salads can also be a great vegan pairing.

Don’t be put off by the word ‘salad’ - salads can be fun and exciting. Why not try an Italian chopped salad or a sweet and fruity salad?

However, try to avoid vinegar dressings, as this flavour doesn’t pair as well with Sauvignon Blanc.

Mushrooms are a versatile vegetable that are the basis of many great vegan meals, and luckily their flavour profiles can pair perfectly with many wines - including Chardonnay.

A vegan-friendly creamy mushroom risotto or pasta can pair well with a glass of Chardonnay thanks to the wine’s light oak notes.

 

Red Wines

Red Wine isn’t too difficult to find a perfect vegan food pairing with.

Fruity reds can pair perfectly with Asian flavours - such as tofu stir fry, or fried rice meals.

Red wines heavy in tannin pair perfectly with salty dishes, so whether you’re planning a side of olives, a salty garlic sauteed mushroom dish, or a plain serving of salty fries, a heavy-bodied red is certain to pair perfectly.

Pinot Noir especially pairs perfectly with a tasty mushroom dish - the strong flavour pair well with any high-tannin wine.

If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll be glad to know this can be a great pairing with herb-heavy foods

However, it’s generally best to avoid rice and pasta as the starches don’t tend to mellow out the harsh tannins found in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Malbec and other full-bodied reds can taste great with spiced vegan stews full of flavour and tasty vegetables.

It can also pair well with tomato-based dishes - something as simple as tomato pasta can be complemented by a full Malbec.