There are many reasons to collect and cellar wines, but for me there are two that rise above all: (i) some wines evolve and change with time in the cellar and I like the way they taste better after they’ve aged for a period of time, and (ii) the old Boy Scout motto, “Always Be Prepared”. Having a collection of wines in the cellar means I am drinking better, tastier wines – but it also means that I have a selection of flavours, styles and food pairing options that reflect both what I like to drink, but also what I like to eat.

It seems that great attention is paid to pairing wines with proteins (meat, fish, cheese, etc) but less attention has been paid to pairing wine with vegetarian cuisine and amazing farm fresh seasonal vegetables. While I am admittedly not a vegetarian myself, I wanted to present my list of 7 wine styles that will evolve and improve with some time in the cellar and that pair perfectly with vegetable dishes and vegetarian cuisine.

Unadulterated (without cooking, seasoning or the addition of sauces), most vegetables tend to pair most naturally with lighter white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, or lighter red wines like Gamay or Pinot Noir. So, how do we introduce some of the bigger, bolder and more full-bodied wines to the table alongside these dishes?

Here are a few ways to make veggie dishes better suited to pairing with rich, full-bodied whites:

  1. Use rich vegetable purees – especially when fortified with a bit of heavy cream or butter

  2. Feature super fresh, seasonal and rich sweet vegetables like red peppers, squash, carrots, turnip, beets or sweet potatoes

  3. Top dishes with toasted seeds and/or nuts (especially pumpkin seeds or pine nuts) as they complement oak flavours in white wines

And now a few suggestions to prepare dishes that pair well with big, bold and full-throttle red wines:

  1. Grilling, roasting, smoking & charring. The use of these techniques on most any vegetable creates sweet caramelization and wonderful complex toasty flavours

  2. Use dried fruits (especially apricots, prunes or cherries) in sauces

  3. Season with warming aromatic spices like cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves or coriander

  4. Look for opportunities to use umami rich ingredients like soy sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, truffles or parmesan cheese

Besides these tips, the overarching principles of pairing wines with vegetables are no different than pairing wines with any other dishes – rich wines pair with rich foods, delicate wines with delicate foods, and most importantly look at herbs, spices, seasonings, oils and fats (ahead of the vegetable itself) when considering wine pairings.

Now on to the wines – here is my list of great cellar selections for vegetarian wine lovers:

#1. Bordeaux Whites

ORIGIN:
Bordeaux, France

GRAPES:
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle

BEST PAIRINGS:
Japanese & Vietnamese flavours, lemon & citrus, cilantro, avocado, pesto

WINE PROFILE:
Zippy, clean & fresh, like springtime in a glass (here’s a perfect example). Bright citrus, kiwi and gooseberry fruit flavours and aromas.

#2. Priorat Reds

ORIGIN:
Priorat, Spain

GRAPES:
Mainly Grenache, Syrah, Carignan & Mourvedre

BEST PAIRINGS:
Mexican, Latin & Eastern Mediterranean flavours, black olives/tapenade, grilled vegetables, caramelized onions

WINE PROFILE:
Like a bowl of ripe, fresh red summer fruit salad (and these guys made some of my absolutely favourites!). Raspberry, cherry, chocolate flavours with complex minerality and tremendous balance. My kind of summer BBQ wine!

#3. Pouilly Fuisse Whites

ORIGIN:
Burgundy, France

GRAPES:
Chardonnay

BEST PAIRINGS:
French & Italian flavours, squash, fennel, hummus, coconut milk, risotto

WINE PROFILE:
Classic cool climate Chardonnay. A versatile white wine for serious foodies with tropical fruit and floral flavours and aromas – and lightly oaked adding richness and body.

#4. Loire Cabernet Franc

ORIGIN:
Loire Valley, France

GRAPES:
Cabernet Franc

BEST PAIRINGS:
Thai & Indian flavours, legumes, grilled vegetables, portabello mushrooms, wine/fruit based sauces

WINE PROFILE:
Clean, balanced and refreshing red wine. Raspberry, red currant, strawberry and floral flavours and aromas in a medium bodied style.

#5. Tokay Pinot Gris

ORIGIN:
Alsace, France

GRAPES:
Pinot Gris

BEST PAIRINGS:
Southwestern, African & North American flavours, summer salads, citrus dressings, light cream sauces

WINE PROFILE:
One of the world’s great food wines. These late harvest expressions of Pinot Gris brings together the richness and body of a Chardonnay with the finesse and aromatics of a Riesling (keep you eyes peeled for anything from these guys!). Look for peach, pear and golden apple fruit in a fuller-bodied style.

#6. Cru Beaujolais Reds

ORIGIN:
Beaujolais, France

GRAPES:
Gamay

BEST PAIRINGS:
Thai & Indian flavours, veggie burgers, light cheeses (goat, brie, camembert, etc), curry

WINE PROFILE:
One of the great unknown bargains of the wine world. Not to be confused with it’s younger (and much less interesting) cousin, Beaujolais Nouveau, Cru Beaujolais reds can be every bit as interesting as some Pinot Noirs grown to the north in Burgundy. Highlighting raspberry and red cherry flavours in a midweight frame, a few bottles Cru Beaujolais belong in every wine lover’s cellar!

#7. Mosel Rieslings

ORIGIN:
Mosel Valley, Germany

GRAPES:
Riesling

BEST PAIRINGS:
Japanese, Vietnamese & Thai flavours, vegetarian Pho, fresh rolls, coconut curry

WINE PROFILE:
A mouthful of sunshine! The best Mosel Rieslings (and this is a source for some of the very best!) showcase electrifying peach, lime zest and honey flavours with amazing acidity and freshness to produce an oh-so gulp-able low(er) alcohol white wine.

 

BY: Andrew Hanna / Winetrader.ca / CellarBuilder.ca

7 Insider Tips to Pairing Wine with Vegetarian Cuisine