If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
So far as taste is concerned though the same rules apply as with non-veggie ingredients. Think about the seasoning and the way a dish is cooked rather than the base ingredient. There’s going to be a significant difference between an aubergine parmigiana, for example, and Hugh’s aubergine and green bean curry which is featured in the Guardian today.
Beer and cider or even soft drinks, may well be a more suitable match with spicy veggie dishes. Bear in mind that if several dishes are served at one time, the most intensely flavoured will determine your choice.
Here are my suggestions:
Aubergine and green bean curry
I like strong dry rosés with curries like these. Wheat beers also work well with coconut-based sauces or you could try a mango lassi.
Cauliflower with sumac and seeds
With the nutty seeds and lemony dressing I’d go for a crisp dry Italian white like the ones I’ve highlighted here or a good Pinot Grigio. Picpoul de Pinet would also work well. Good alternatives would be apple juice and cider.
Mexican tomato and bean soup
Lots of possibilities - a zesty, lemony Sauvignon Blanc from south Australia or Chile (as opposed to a grassy, gooseberryish one from New Zealand) or a Rueda. A classic margarita or a dark Mexican lager. Possibly even a porter. A lime-flavoured agua fresca.
Spicy carrot and chickpea pitta pocket
This seems to have morphed from the roast carrot hummus I was originally asked to pair. I still think you could drink a Roussanne/Marsanne-based southern French white like the white Minervois I mentioned or a south Australian Semillon but I'd probably now go for a medium-dry cider.
Roasted new potatoes with harissa
You’re probably unlikely to be choosing a wine to match these on their own but I’d personally choose a young Rioja or other Tempranillo or Garnacha-based Spanish red.
Chard and new potato curry
This strikes me as a beer recipe rather than a wine one - my preference would be for an IPA - but strong dry rosé should work too.
Sweet potato and peanut gratin
Try an oaked Chardonnay. Or a fruity red like a Merlot. I’m also wondering if an American-style brown ale wouldn’t be rather good.
Chillies stuffed with beans
Beans are really red-wine friendly - I’d probably opt for a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Syrah. Or a strong British ale.