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Vegan food & wine pairings

Consumers often assume that because wine is made of grapes, all wines must therefore be vegan. This is mostly true, although not always the case (includes vegan recipe cards!)...scroll to read more

There is an final process in wine production called “clarification” where the almost finished product is prepared for bottling. Sediments, which are naturally occurring solids, are removed before the wine is put into bottle. A wine is only considered “vegan-friendly” if the fining agent used at this stage is not an animal product.

What are conventional methods for clarifying wine?

The fastest way to remove natural sediments is to introduce a fining agent (a form of protein) that binds to the sediments, thereby causing the particles to sink to the bottom of the tank or barrel and allowing for easy removal. These fining agents* are commonly albumin (egg white), gelatine (animal protein), casein (milk protein) and isinglass (fish protein). 

*It is important to note that although these animal by-products may be used as fining agents, none of those particles actually remain in the finished clarified wine.

What are alternative vegan-friendly methods for fining a wine?

South African winemakers are increasingly making use of bentonite (a type of clay) as a fining agent, with great success. Alternatively, some wineries (like Stark-Condé) that age their wines over an extended period of time will rather allow the molecules to slowly settle on their own, and to “rack” away the sediments as they sink to the bottom of the vessel.

How do I check the label to see if the wine is vegan-friendly?

The demand for information regarding vegan-friendly wines has been largely consumer-driven, and most wineries are eager to embrace the trend. Currently, it is very expensive to become “officially vegan certified”, so wineries usually will print “vegan-friendly” on their labels or statements on their websites.

Postcard Cafe on Stark-Condé Wine Estate has several vegan options and all the Stark-Condé wines are vegan-friendly.

So, how do I pair wine and vegan food?

As the vegan diet gains in popularity, restaurants are equally eager to offer vegan food & wine pairings.  Pairing wines with food is often presented as a science, but the fact of the matter is that there are very few absolutes when it comes to the basic rules.

Rule 1: Drink and eat what you enjoy

This is the most important rule since there are many traditional pairings that could make you feel like you must drink a wine that may not appeal to you. By getting to know the other rules you will understand the nuances of pairing and find new combinations that capture your preferred flavour combinations.

Rule 2: Consider the weight of the food and wine

The weight of a dish refers to how it feels on your palate. For example, think of the difference between a clear vegetable broth vs. creamy mushroom soup. The fat or protein content dictates the weight of a dish. Plant-based creams made of coconut or cashew can add considerable mouth-feel to a dish, and ideally a wine would need to be similar in some way (rich in body) or otherwise complementary in a contrasting way (balanced acidity.) When in doubt, refer to Rule #1!

Rule 3: Pair to the main flavour

We have 5 main taste receptors: sweetness, acidity, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (savoury). Our experience of flavour is a combination of these, with a few important variables like fattiness and spice.

The points to remember of the five main flavours is to match the level of sweetness and acidity between the dish and wine, while bitter foods combine with bitter tannins in an unpleasant accumulation. Salt is magic for wine by accentuating fruit character and softening rough tannins, and umami is a universal magnifier to wine, meaning anything out of balance in a wine will be accentuated.

Vegan Food & Wine pairings:

Wineman offers a wide range of vegan wines at different price points. These vegan wines are not limited to a particular style or varietal—they range from easy-drinking affordable wines to handcrafted, premium, organic wines.

Click here for a full list of vegan-friendly wines.

Black Bean & Zucchini Burgers

Everybody loves a burger (all sorts of burgers!)

Click here for the recipe
Serve with MAN Merlot

Moroccan Eggplant & Chickpea Tagine

Pinotage is an ideal match for dishes made with aromatic and flavourful ingredients. 

Click here for the recipe
Serve with MAN Pinotage

Portobello Mushroom & Walnut Tart

Multiple layers of flavours that complements the wine.

Click here for the recipe
Serve with MAN Cabernet Sauvignon

Rustic Potato & Zucchini Galette

This rustic galette is a perfect match to this aromatic Syrah.

Click here for the recipe
Serve with MAN Syrah

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