Sophisticated Wine Pairings Beyond Meat and Cheese

If you think plant-based food can’t stand up to the best and boldest red wines, think again. Popular online wine resource and New York Times bestselling book Wine Folly recently shared their guide to pairing wines with plant-based foods. The guide shares innovative ideas for pairing foods rich with vegan fats and umami with their wine soulmates.relish tray with assorted Julienned vegetables and chopsticks

“Contrary to what the carnivores would have you believe,” the guide begins, plant-based food offers pairing that are equally delightful as familiar cheese- and meat-focused ones. Some ingredients highlighted by Wine Folly include:

  • Soy sauce
  • Dried shitake mushrooms
  • Fennel seed
  • Roasted shallots
  • Molasses

These complex and deeply-flavored elements go beautifully with full-bodied red wines.

Expert Advice for Making Pairings 

Matthew Kenney, a luminary in the world of plant-based cooking since 2004, is known for his choosing exceptional wines to pair with the innovative dishes he dreams up. Kenney heads a plant-based empire with locations in geographic locations ranging from Belfast, Maine to Hua Hin, Thailand. The flagships of the empire are his Plant Food + Wine restaurants, one in Venice, California, and one set inside The Sacred Space in Miami, Florida.

two glasses of red wine with a basket of bread and a glass of ice waterThe menu for Plant Food + Wine in Miami is vegan, almost entirely raw, and completely high-end. Kenney never sacrifices flavor, and even die-hard carnivores can’t help but appreciate the results. His classic French training shows in the exquisite plating which showcases the innate beauty of fresh, local produce.  “I find the raw food so vibrant and colorful,” Kenney told Vogue, “the flavors are really crisp, you can’t cheat with ingredients. It requires a lot of innovative technique.” For him, clean food means food that’s “as close as possible to the product that comes out of the ground or off the tree.”

Pleasure, Not Deprivation

At the same time, he believes that it’s essential to create food that tastes as good as it looks. Eating should be about pleasure, not deprivation. He also believes that we’re at a cultural tipping point when it comes to plant-based eating. Everyone from professional sports teams to “major multibillion-dollar food conglomerates” are exploring plant-based eating. “I think it’s much more than a trend,” he says, “I think it’s a new direction.”

Plant Food + Wine is on the cutting edge of that movement. Recently awarded 4 stars from Miami Herald, the restaurant’s vibrant menu honors Miami’s tropical climate and diverse cultural influences. The wine and sake lists are wholly organic, as are the cocktails, which feature seasonal ingredients.

As more and more grocery and wine stores expand their organic offerings, there’s no reason you can’t create a Plant Food + Wine experience in your own home! Brown rice and vegetables are plenty healthy, but there’s no reason why a plant-based diet can’t include some glitz.