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Guest post by Kerrie, owner of the blog: Plant & Vine
You shouldn’t have to choose between being a vegan and a wine lover. Until I founded Plant & Vine, I struggled to find good information about pairing rules for vegan meals. Vegan and vegetarian food seemed like an afterthought to most wine aficionados. I wanted to change that, so I founded Plant & Vine, a resource for connecting the dots between plant-based meals and wine. With the holidays coming up, it’s extra important to keep the options flowing, so I’ve created a simple overview of vegan wine options.
Before diving into the tofurkey, it’s important to know that not all wine is vegan, or even vegetarian for that matter. Today’s wine drinkers prefer their wines to be clear and and sediment-free. Young wine, on the other hand, is often hazy and contains sediment. There are two ways to solve this problem: (1) give the wine enough time for sediment to fall to the bottom or (2) filter and fine the wines so they’re clear. Fining agents use to accomplish option #2 are often animal-based (egg whites and fish swim bladder are two examples). While the fining agents are filtered out in final production,it’s impossible to remove them completely, so the wine can’t be restored to vegan or vegetarian status.
So how do you find vegan and vegetarian wines? In an ideal world, they would be clearly labeled. Some winemakers choose to label their wines but the vast majority don’t which means you have to be dedicated to the cause. To help save some time, look for “unfined" on the label, consult the wonderful vegan beverage guide the Barnivore, or talk to your local wine shop for their recommendations.
Now that we’ve got the vegan wine sourcing down, let’s talk about holiday wine pairings. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays so I’ll keep my tips high-level where they can apply for lots of different meals. The most important rule? Drink and be merry.
There are a couple of common food themes across different holidays:
Luckily, these themes give us some high-level pairing guidance:
I love playing into the spices and matching their warm and savory flavors. Your wine can bring its own version of spice to the occasion. Try an oaked Barbera, Amarone, or a GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) blend.
You want something with a little umph here. In other words, winter and root vegetables are too dominant for a light South African Chenin Blanc or Chablis. Try a more savory red (French Northern Rhône Syrah) instead of a bold, jammy red (Australian Shiraz) to support the heaviness of the veggies. If you want to impress your guests, roll up with a fancy Châteauneuf du Pape but expect to pay a hefty price for it.
Whether it is turkey or tofurkey, your meal is likely to have some sort of protein. You also might be attending a party where the host is a meat eater so your usual meat suspects are headlining. Have no fear! Try a Rosé, Gamay, or Zinfandel. They’re fruity and light enough to not overpower the bird but they’ve got a little more grip and tannin than your white wines.
Ahhhh, the good stuff. The key to pairing wine with sweets is that you want your wine to be sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, you risk a non-bitter wine suddenly tasting sweet when stacked against a cookie or piece of cake.
If you’re looking for something really special, grab a bottle of Sauternes. Made in Bordeaux in France, this wine can burst with honey, ginger, pineapple, peach, butterscotch, and custard. It is an incredibly luscious wine with a hefty price tag but worth a special occasion.
Looking for something more budget friendly? You can’t go wrong with a mid-range Moscato or Gewurztraminer.
If you’re interested in learning more about wine pairing and vegan wines, check out my guides to wine pairing for vegan and vegetarian food and vegan wine. Cheers!
Kerrie is a photographer, wine nerd, and lifelong learner—currently spending evenings in photography classes and studying for the Wine Spirit Education Trust Level III exam. She has never been satisfied with following a recipe word-for-word and prefers the surprises that emerge when veering from suggestion. After being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, Kerrie began following a plant-based diet and hasn’t looked back since.
Looking for vegan recipes? click here.