How to Pair Vegan Dishes & AJA Red Wines

June 3, 2024
Vegan dinner and red wine pairing.

Who says vegan dishes and fine wine do not go together? At AJA Vineyards, we have several full bodied red wines which pair beautifully with plant-based dishes. The art is in knowing how to blend the dark fruit flavors of our wines with the bitter, sweet, salty, and fatty tastes of vegan cuisine. Let’s pair some of our red wines with vegan dishes.


Wine Folly’s article, “Pairing Bold Red Wines with Vegetarian (Or Vegan) Food” lays out some note-worthy guidelines for how red wine and vegan dishes can happily coexist.

When planning a vegan meal, it is first essential to consider wine as an ingredient. This ingredient must work well with all the plant-based flavors. With low pH levels, red wine tends to be bold in flavor. The dry and tannic sensations act as protein scrapers on the tongue. Therefore, vegan dishes rich in protein such as those containing tofu, tempeh, beans, or soy help to counter balance the acidity of the red wine.

The strong fruit forward taste of the wine can also be complemented with the use of nutty ingredients including mushrooms, nuts, and oils. Finally, seasonings such as shallots, cumin, fennel, and paprika help to add on intensity to plant-based dishes which matches the bold flavors of our Cabernet and Syrah.

Notably, if the vegan meal contains naturally bitter foods such as kale, broccoli rabe, or radicchio, it is wise to tone down this acidity with some sweet ingredients. Maple syrup or candied pecans can serve as appealing additions allowing its flavor to counterbalance the tartness of the red wine.

It is smart to avoid pairing red wine with acidic ingredients such as lemons or limes unless the dish also contains a substantial amount of fat. For example, lemon flavors work well with red wine when balanced by the richness of pasta.


One example of a perfectly balanced vegan meal is lion-maned mushroom steak over polenta paired with our AJA Vineyards Syrah from our Malibu Coast Estate Vineyards. The tempeh in this dish works well as a protein flavor. Also, the olive oil and mushrooms add an intense taste which matches the boldness of the syrah wine. Finally rosemary, sage, garlic, balsamic reduction, and red pepper flakes work as counter balances to the acidity of the red wine. Together all these flavors come together to provide a harmonious taste experience.

With a little effort and some help from AJA’s selection of fine red wines, anyone can prepare a delicious and well-balanced vegan pairing culinary delight.


Jordan Perrotti

Jordan is a student at UGA and is Interning for AJA Vineyards Summer 2024

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