Vegan and Vegetarian Wine Food Pairings

By Alex and Priya, A Vine Romance

One of the most interesting things I’ve realized since meeting Alex is that although wine and food pairings are common, it is extremely rare that wine pairings are offered for vegetarian or more specifically, vegan foods.

vegetables fresh basketWith Meatless Mondays gaining momentum and scores of celebrities (Beyonce, Jared Leto, Bill Clinton, Ellen Degeneres) going vegan and since I have my own, in-house sommelier to help me out, I thought I’d pay it forward and offer some general thoughts on how to pair wine with vegan foods.

To begin, I should clarify ‘vegan’ from ‘vegetarian’. Unlike lacto-ovo vegetarians, who eat dairy and eggs and may eat fish (pescatarian) vegans don’t eat any animal products.

On the food side, this makes wine pairings more challenging as Alex says. Big, tannic wines don’t match vegan food very well.

Animal fats and proteins absorb the tannins and soften the wines, which make them more palatable with food. This isn’t to say that vegan food can’t be fattening—boy I wish that were true!

On the vino side, it may surprise you that all wines are not vegan. That’s another interesting fact I learned from Alex.

Many animal-derived fining agents are used in the production of wine including blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil and gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts).

While albumen and casein may be used in vegetarian wines, none of these agents will be found in vegan wines.Karlo 2010_riesling

If we’ve piqued your interest at all and you’re looking for vegan-friendly wines, you need look no further than our own backyard, Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County. Along with red and whites, their list includes a rosé and a very rare, white port.

Owner, Sherry Karlo says, “We’re proud to be the first vegan certified winery in the world. Our clients love it because to them it speaks to quality and a perception of a more natural old world approach to wine.

They also love that it’s more environmentally friendly. Some say our wines even have a cleaner taste profile.”

Chateau des Charmes Gewurztraminer 2013


Several other Ontario vineyards offer vegan-friendly wines even though the winery itself may not be classified as ‘vegan’.

These include Cave Spring, Chateau des Charmes, Southbrook Vineyards and Frogpond. A great resource for finding vegan-friendly wines from around the world is the website

A trick Alex taught me is that while most wineries may choose not to go through the lengthy, expensive certification process to be deemed vegan, if their wine labels say ‘unfiltered and unfined’, chances are that they are vegan-friendly!

While we’re at it, let’s clear up a common misconception that vegan food is boring, or that it’s unsatisfying. Frogpond Farrm Riesling

While still a meat-eater, Alex has developed quite a palate for vegan meals. As for myself, I wasn’t always vegan so I still crave some comfort foods I loved growing up.

Thankfully I’ve found some fantastic chefs and website who’ve helped me rediscover some of my favorite dishes including fettucine alfredo (with cashew cream sauce), mac & cheese (amazing what nutritional yeast can do for you!) and even desserts!

Look for our future blogs as we bring together great vegan recipes and fabulous wines. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at


Alex & Priya - A Vine RomanceAlex and Priya are not only wine lovers, but lovers in real life. No wine snobbery here — they’re all about bringing wine back to the masses.

Newfoundlander, Alex may have model looks (yes, he was a Harlequin cover model in another life!) but he is also a Certified Sommelier who lives, breathes, and of course, drinks wine. Alex is very passionate about wine and was the sole person in a class of over 200 to earn a perfect score on his Wine Specialist Exam in Napa, CA!

With her background as a comic performer and producer, Priya is a consummate and entertaining hostess. She’s produced and hosted events for groups of 100 to over 2000 people so she knows a thing or two about how to get things done and get them done right.

Together they aim to make wine fun, flirty and accessible regardless of your income bracket. Let us make your next wine tour or event truly memorable!



Leave a Reply