A crisp white with fish, complex red with steak, inexpensive rosé with… everything — we know the fundamentals when it comes to wine pairings, but once you take us beyond the basics, we’re a bit lost. And since we’ve now got throwing our first dinner party down, we feel ready to up our wine-pairing game so that we can host a veg-friendly affair with confidence. Thankfully, sommelier Andrea Morris was up to the task to help us out. As one of the youngest women to ever pass the Court of Master Sommeliers advanced exam and the current beverage director at NIX, a new vegetarian spot in NYC, we knew she’d be the perfect person to fill us in on what wines to pair with our next vegetarian meal.
1. Lean toward high-acid wines. To make pairing super simple, Andrea suggests always defaulting to a high-acid wine when you’re looking to drink it with veggies, since most veggies are naturally high in acid themselves. Remember: Pair body with body! High-acid doesn’t have to mean a crisp white; in fact, Andrea says “those can be white or red depending on if your vegetables are lighter, like in Caprese salad, or heavier, like in mushroom risotto.” For whites, try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a German Riesling. For reds, Barbera or Pinot Noir are good high-acidity go-tos.
2. Think of wine as a condiment. If you’re looking to get a bit more specific with your pairing, Andrea suggests thinking about it like this: “A high-acid white wine is like a fresh squeeze of lemon, while a rich spicy red is like Dijon mustard. Think about what flavor or sensation you’d like to add and let that guide your decision,” Andrea says.
3. Have fun. With all that said, Andrea is all about just drinking what you love, no matter what you’re eating. “There’s no right or wrong way to pair wines with food,” Andrea says. If you’re at a complete loss, she suggests asking the associate at your local wine shop to “steer you in the right direction once you give them a few parameters (white or red, light-medium-bold body, sweet or dry).”
1. For hearty and rich foods: Andrea’s favorite food is mushrooms, and she loves pairing them with a wine that has a little oxidation to it. Wines with a “touch of oxidation” can give them “a little nuttiness, which complements the earthy quality of mushrooms.” Right now she’s loving Lopez de Heredia’s Viña Gravonia Rioja Blanco (Spain, $20) and Domaine de Touraize Savagnin Terres Bleues from Arbois (France, $32).
2. For light and bright meals: If a big, bright salad is your idea of a vegetarian meal (they’re a legit dinner party food on their own, promise!), then Andrea says she likes Punta Crena’s Pigato from Liguria (Italy, $28). She explains that “Pigato is a synonym for Vermentino, a light-bodied white wine from Italy. This one is super savory with a touch of salinity,” which will bring out all those clean flavors in your salad.
3. All-purpose wines: And for those of you who are popping by Whole Foods the day of your dinner party with no plan and need a “no-brainer,” Andrea suggests looking for Austrian wines like Grüner Veltliner for their high-acid and medium-body, or Alsatian wines, as they “tend to have a slightly bitter note at the end that goes well with a variety of green vegetables.” She says any dry Pinot Gris or Riesling would work well too.
What wine do you drink on your veggie nights? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know which one you’re into!
(Photos via Getty)