How to Pair Wine with your Favourite Veggies

Sometimes the most intimidating part of a meal can be finding the right wine. Sure, you know white wine goes with chicken and red wine goes with steak…but what if you’re following a vegetarian diet? The fact is, you don’t have to invite meat to the table to serve up some impressive and delicious wine pairings; some of the most harmonious combos around come from plants alone. So whether you’re thinking about throwing a big dinner party or planning a romantic night for two, try taking meat out of the equation for a little challenge. With the right bottle on the table, we bet your guests won’t even miss it. Here are some tips to get you started.

The raw and the cooked

First, let’s get down to basics. What are you serving, and how are you cooking it? As a rule, light, fresh vegetables like peas and lettuces will be the perfect match for a crisp white wine (for extra fun…just add bubbles). On the other hand, sweet, earthy veggies like sweet potatoes, beets and mushrooms come to life with a richer white wine or a light to medium-bodied red, like a Pinot Noir or Merlot.

Of course, it’s not just about ingredients you’re using – your cooking method plays a big part, too. Serving a crudité platter or some tender-crisp green beans? A light white wine is a must-have (Pinot Gris, anyone?). Grilling, braising or roasting your dish? That’ll bring out some rich, caramelized flavours that are just begging for a glass of something big, bold and red. Malbec to the rescue!

And in the same vein, the seasonings you choose can totally transform a dish – and its ideal accompaniment. Making something spicy? Balance it out with a fruity white like an off-dry Riesling, or complement it with a full-bodied red. Adding dairy for richness? Try a rich white, like a Chardonnay that’s seen some oak. And of course, no matter what you’re cooking, you can make any food even more wine-friendly by adding seasonings and flavourings that already work well with most wines, like shallots, garlic and thyme. Yes please.

Lettuce eat

Of course, if you’re serving salad (and we hope you are!), then your best friend might just be a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. From fresh lettuces to juicy tomatoes to zucchini, minimally cooked veggies are the perfect match for this grape’s zingy acidity. Bring out its herbaceous notes with a handful of fresh chives or a dollop of pesto. Or, if you want to mix it up, try a dry rosé (trust us…they’re not just for summertime). With its delicate flavour and pretty pink colour, a glass of rosé can make even the most ordinary dinner feel festive.

If you’re a red wine purist but still want greens for dinner, fear not…we have you covered too. Cabernet Franc is one of the most veggie-friendly wines around, thanks to its high acidity and a hint of fresh herbs. Though of course, this medium-bodied red is equally at home with a plate of stewed beans or a heaping bowl of pasta and tomato sauce. Cheers.

Cheat sheet

Ready to start experimenting? Here are some fail-proof pairings to get you started.

Crisp Whites (ex. Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc): Green salad, tomatoes, zucchini, green beans.

Aromatic Whites (ex. Riesling): Bell peppers, curries, roasted veggies.

Lush Whites (ex. Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc): Corn, shallots, beans, cauliflower.

Rosé: Tomatoes, olives, ginger.

Light Reds (ex. Pinot Noir, Gamay): Mushrooms, chickpeas, root veggies, leeks, carrots.

Medium Reds (ex. Merlot, Syrah, Grenache): Tomatoes, eggplant, beets, parsnips, roasted peppers.

Bold Reds (ex. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon): Black beans, squash, roasted garlic, roasted eggplant.

But don’t take our word for it…have fun and experiment yourself! At the end of the day, the right pairing isn’t what we tell you will work – it’s what works best for you and your palate. Everyone’s tastes are different, and there’s no wrong answer when it comes to taste. One of the most enjoyable things about pairing food with wine is that it forces you to stop and smell, taste and truly experience every bite and every sip. It’s a wonderful way to take a little extra time for yourself to enjoy and appreciate what’s on your plate – and in your glass. After all, it’s all a labour of love!

Did we miss your favourite food and wine pairing? We want to know about it! Drop us a line at blog@madradish.com.

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