Take a new school look at old-school vegan wine and cheese pairing as Angus and Samuel from Wolf Wine suggest combinations to please your palate.
As a vegan you may well be under the illusion that your cheese and wine days are a thing of the past, or maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your pairing game. Either way, we are here to tell you not to fear – we have a few quick suggestions for you! Vegan cheese has come on leaps and bounds and vegan wines are becoming more easily identifiable by the day. As for the magic behind pairing the two together to create amazing combinations for your palette, here are a few of our tips and tricks to get you started.
One of the favourites is that age-old combination of salt and sweet. Whether it’s salted caramel or mixed popcorn, the balance between these two is a timeless classic; something that we love to play on when pairing wine and cheese. So how might this work with vegan cheese? Well, if you can find a lovely salty blue nut cheese, or a tofu-based halloumi with a good salt content, chances are you might want to ask your wine guy/gal for something with more residual sugar. Perhaps an ever so slightly off-dry white like a Mosel Riesling, or, if you have a sweeter tooth, you could try a nectar-like Tokaji dessert wine.
A question we often get is what to pair up with smoked cheese. Smoke can be a dominating flavour and it can often swamp any fruit flavours in your wine. Rather than hunting for a fruity red to compete against the smoke flavours, why not go for a smoky wine? The champion of which is South Africa’s own grape variety; Pinotage. Wines produced with Pinotage are characterised by their intense smoke and cocoa flavours – perfect alongside that smokey cashew cheese!
Let’s say you are a massive fan of all things nut-based (including your cheeses), which is great, because it’s super easy to pair with! In comparison to their soya or aquafaba counterparts, nut cheeses always have much higher levels of protein. In wine circles, protein works absolute wonders when it comes to pairing full-bodied reds. You’ll find the high protein nut cheeses will mellow the heavy tannins of things like a big burly Cabernet or peppery Malbec. The choices are endless.
Of course, this is of little use to your nut allergy friend. In our experience, the nutless cheese styles are often wonderfully fresh and clean, more often than not incorporating a clever use of lemon juice.
Acidity in food is remarkably good at reducing acidity in wine and revealing a plethora of floral and fruity notes otherwise lost to the acidic burn. To make the most of this we would always say go for a light and bright red or a zesty white.
For reds there is nothing better than the ‘king of grapes’ Pinot Noir; a youthful Pinot with its delicate flavours of crushed berries and bright acidity balance perfectly with a tart cheese. And for whites why not try a Sauvignon Blanc and watch the tropical fruit flavours ripen as the acidity drops away.
Go your own way
Naturally, it is important to remember that is just a rough guide. As always, food and drink is a subjective endeavour and the best way to learn what works is to keep on trying, which is the fun bit! So long as you are drinking vegan wines that you love and eating awesome vegan cheese, you will likely come across some unique and all-round delicious combinations.
Some folk might suggest that wine and cheese pairing is old hat, but we disagree – there’s always something new out there. We say grab your favourite vegan cheese and get down to your local independent wine specialist and explore away!
Angus and Samuel run Wolf Wine, an independent craft wine company based in Greenpark Station, Bath. Unlike many regular wine shops, they wanted to offer people exceptionally high-quality wines made in very small quantities. Naturally, that means they enjoy a high turnover of new and exciting lines on an almost weekly basis.