Jen Masterson works at Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, WI. Wollersheim produces 17 regional and varietal wines, all of them vegetarian. Jen has been working on a number of food and wine pairing options for Vegetarian Thanksgivings and she shares them with us today.
Thanksgiving is such a delicious time of year! Not only is the food plentiful, but we move into the season of bigger, complex wines. Surefire favorites for the holiday feasting should include a nice buttery Chardonnay or, on the contrary, a nice clean white with crisp acidity like a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling for whites and big earthy reds like Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Syrah. For those of us who opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey (yep, myself included!), we are so fortunate during this time of year when the bounty is full of deliciously rich root vegetables, hearty greens, earthy grains and lentils along with delectable fruit sauces. I’m a vegetarian, and Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite times of the year to feast. And honestly, as a wine enthusiast, I love basing meals around the wine, because it’s really fun to see what you can build with the cornucopia of fall foods that we’re blessed with. So here are some of my favorite wines paired with some delicious vegetarian options:
BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU: Nouveaus are fun red wines to have during the holidays. A French tradition, Beaujolais Nouveau wines are released the Thursday before Thanksgiving. These wines are released the same year that the grapes are harvested, so they’re nice and light and fruity, with flavors reminiscent raspberry, black cherry and banana, so they bring out the fruitiness of a sauce or relish as well as a nice match-up to the acidity in tomato-based dishes.
- Fruit relishes like the traditional cranberry sauce or chutney
- Tofurkey – for those weaning themselves from the traditional ways of Thanksgiving!
- Vegetarian chili
PINOT NOIR: Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines to enjoy during Thanksgiving. The earthiness of the Pinot and a hint of oak from barrel-aging really blends well with sweet and earthy flavors in foods like sweet potatoes, grains and lentils, and mushroom dishes.
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Stuffed squash with quinoa or rice
- Mushroom & Potato Gratin
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Lentil salad
- Pumpkin and black bean faux “steaks”
SYRAH: Syrahs are full of dark, plumy fruit flavors and a nice smooth full finish with an essence of carmeled toast from barrel-aging, and can pack a perfect punch of beautifully bold and savory flavor pairings. You’ll want to make sure that a big red like this is partnered with foods that have big flavors, so that neither is overpowered by the other.
- Mushroom tart with roasted red peppers
- Olive tapenade crostinis with feta
- Marinated tofu on greens
WHITE CHARDONNAY: Chardonnays can go two ways: oaked and unoaked. During this time of year, I love a smooth, buttery Chardonnay with a nice splash of fruit and acidity. The creaminess of the wine melds well with creamy dishes, but the hint of stone fruit is sure to make the dish pop.
- Mashed potatoes: a match made in buttery heaven!!!
- Roasted Polenta with vegetables
- Squash or pumpkin stew
SAUVIGNON BLANC: On the contrary of a creamy Chardonnay, the citrus notes in a Sauvignon Blanc can add a splash of acidity to perk up your palate and your dish. So rather than squeezing a lemon over the food, just reach for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc instead.
- Sautéed kale with pine nuts
- Spicy roasted Brussel sprouts
- Curried vegetables (also partners with a Chardonnay for a beautiful creamy marriage of flavor, but the hint of citrus from the Sauvignon Blanc is a nice counter balance to the sweet & spicy curry)
- Grilled or roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, squash)
You may not have realized this but most wines are not vegetarian because the use of animal by-products in the wine filtration process is quite common. To stay true this Thanksgiving check out these vegetarian wine producers: Clos LaChance Winery – Clos LaChance’s Estate Vineyards in the Northern Central Coast of California make a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Red Wine blend. Wollersheim Winery – Recognized as being one of the leading wineries in the Midwest, Wollersheim Winery crafts 17 nationally acclaimed regional and varietal wines, all of them vegetarian. Frey Vineyards – Frey Vineyards in Mendocino, CA is a leader in organic and biodynamic winemaking. They make an number of award-winning wines all of which are vegan. Photo: Angel Ruiz