Vegetarian Wine Pairings

  • Alisa Dobronravova

Angela Allan, general manager and sommelier at CULPRIT Dining Room & Bar, provides insights on vegan and vegetarian food and wine pairings.

See Issue 2 of ASI Association de la Sommellerie Internationale new digital magazine.

ASI: When presented with a customer that is vegan or vegetarian do you see this as an opportunity or a challenge?
Angela Allan (AA): At CULPRIT we strive to ensure that everyone that enters our doors is well looked after and has a great time. Whether our guest is vegan, gluten free, or full-on carnivore, we take this as another opportunity to show who we are and what we do best. The goal is to provide a memorable experience filled with bold, seasonal dishes, complimented by fun and creative beverage offerings.

ASI: When crafting your wine list, do you make indicate if the list wines are vegan on your wine list so you can be sure to offer vegan customers an appropriate selection?
AA: I prefer to have these conversations at the table. To me this is all part of the experience with us, lots of things happening, sounds, smells and tastes; and I feel that this is what sets us apart. We have quite a few unique wines that are familiar and yet unexpected, and a large amount of glass pours so we can taste and talk through which wine will work best for each guest.

ASI: Are there particular styles, varietals, regions you use as "go to" pairings for plant-based cuisine?
AA: The chefs at CULPRIT are masters when it comes to balancing dishes. If the dish has fat and acid, I will find a wine to pair with it. As far as wine in New Zealand we are spoiled for choice. Winemakers here have an adventurous spirit, and there are plenty of exciting and delicious discoveries. For those hard to pair items like brussels sprouts, and asparagus, I often find an off-dry white compliments them well, or even a white wine that has spent spent some time on their skins which really punches up the texture. Pairing vegetable-based dishes is never a challenge and always an opportunity to learn and be creative!

ASI: Do you have a favourite vegetarian dish and wine pairing?

AA: With autumn coming upon us in the Southern Hemisphere we have a lovely vegetarian dish of ‘Spaghetti’ Squash with curried burnt butter, pickled golden raisin, smoked yoghurt, that can be adjusted for vegans as well. I like to pair this with Stonecroft Viogner from Hawkes Bay. The warm spices of the squash pair well with the luscious ripe apricot and stone fruit characteristics of this organic white wine from the Gimblett Gravels subregion. The length and finish really accentuates the subtle sweetness and texture of the dish. This is a vegan friendly wine as well! 

You can read the full story here, Pages 46-47. 

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