Wine and food are a great combination and increasingly people are trying to match their food with complementary wine or vice-a-versa. Most of the information out there about food and wine matching is focused on meat-based dishes and the first lesson people learn is red wine with red meats and white wine with white meats. But what about when the dish is roasted vegetables or tomato pasta?
There are a few important things to consider when matching vegetarian food and wine:
- How were the veggies cooked? Generally white wine is better with raw or steamed vegetables and red wine with roasted or stewed veggies.
- What flavours, spices or fats are present? Citrus, satay and coconut pair well with white wines, whilst paprika, caramelised and smoky flavours are better matched with red wine.
The general rule is match delicate to delicate and bold to bold. A delicate wine will require a delicate dish or it will taste watery, similarly a bold dish needs a big flavoured wine.
In the end though, it comes down to your personal preferences and the combinations that work best for you.
Sparkling white wine
Most sparkling white wines in Australia are made from chardonnay, pinot noir or a combination of the two. As a general rule salty food will partner well with your sparkling wine.
Riesling can vary dramatically by region, but is usually light bodied and highly fragrant. It is very food friendly.
Food match – dry, citrus Riesling (e.g. Clare Valley): papaya salad or raw dishes.
Food match – off-dry Rieslings (i.e. sweeter styles): Asian and Indian dishes.
Cheese match: blue castello, tallegio
Avoid: porchini mushrooms and black pepper
Pinot grigio is typically light bodied and crisp with stone fruit and floral aromas. Being a light style wine pinot grigio works well with salads.
Food match: apple and blue cheese salad, brown rice & finger lime salad, pesto pasta, Beetroot Sashimi with Goat Cheese, Asian beetroot salad
Cheese match: camembert, brie, Persian or goat feta
Avoid: heavy rich dishes
Sav blanc, as it is more commonly known, ranges from soft and fruity to savoury and acidic.
Chardonnay ranges from crisp and light to buttery and medium-bodied depending on how heavily oaked the wine is. Personally I prefer unoaked or lightly oaked chardonnay.
Chardonnay and vegetarian food are a great combination. Young chardonnay has acidity and crisp fruit flavours and matches well with delicate vegetarian dishes, whilst also providing a wonderful contrast to heavier, creamier dishes.
Food match – oaked chardonnay: risotto, avocado, smokey vegetables
Food match – unoaked chardonnay: pear & goat cheese salad, Asian beetroot salad, pumpkin & eggplant creamy coconut curry
Cheese match: goat chevre, gouda, grilled haloumi
Avoid: sweet food
Rosé is made with red grape varieties but served chilled. It is a very versatile wine when it comes to food and works well with salads, rice dishes and Mexican spices
Pinot noir is one of my favourite wines at the moment. It has the warmth of a red, but is lighter and more delicate than most red wines. As pinot noir is not as heavy as other reds it works well with vegetarian dishes.
Merlot can be heavy like a cab sav, or light-bodied like a pinot noir. Merlot typically has low tannins and works well with earthy flavours.
Food match: mushrooms, olives, smokey eggplant, black truffle pasta, dark chocolate ganache, roast vegetable pie.
Cheese match: camembert, manchego, smoked gouda
Avoid: delicate and subtle dishes and spicy food
The intensity of Australian shiraz varies significantly between warm and cool climate regions.
Warmer climates such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale produce big full-bodied shiraz that is fruit forward and jammy, with rich dark berry flavours.
Cooler climate areas such as Murrumbateman and Tasmania produce lighter medium-bodied shiraz with white pepper undertones.
Cabernet sauvignon is complex and full bodied, with flavours and aromas of blackberry, plum, mint, coffee, chocolate and cut wood. Wrattonbully and Coonwarra in the south east of South Australia are well known for producing rich intense cab savs.
Food match: eggplant, radicchio, porcini mushrooms, porcini mushroom risotto
Cheese match: aged cheddar, strong manchego, parmigiano, blue cheese, Roquefort
Avoid: light and delicate dishes, chocolate