If you’re a vegetarian, then you’re probably used to the common reaction others at your table provide when they learn your won’t be partaking in the glorious bird: “what a bummer, at least you can eat this one vegetarian side we made – we hope the wine still goes with it.”
But the turkey does not have to be the main event for it to be a true Thanksgiving meal. What’s more, the wine served can just as easily be paired with all the delicious vegetarian fare on the table, instead of the meat main.
While people may claim pairing vegetarian food is more difficult than a meat main, that isn’t actually true. In general, just like with meat and fish, you want whatever you are drinking to have a higher acidity than whatever you are eating. So if, for example, you were enjoying a soup starter that included a splash of lemon, that addition of acid wouldn’t go well with a Malbec or Cabernet, but it would do wonderfully with a Pinot Noir or most white wines.
But we realize you may have no desire to start considering acid content as you determine what to pair with what, so to make things ever simpler, here are a few popular vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes, and their perfect wine pairing:
Tofurky – California Pinot Noir
The Tofurky has become the defacto main for many a vegetarian Thanksgiving. Meant to taste a bit like the real deal, the Tofurky can be incredibly salty, which makes pairing somewhat of a challenge. In this situation, we’d go with a rich California Pinot Noir. Thanks to the heat and sun, California Pinot tends to be richer and fuller than Pinots from Oregon or France, which will help soothe some of that salt.
Acorn Squash – Chardonnay
If you’re not going for a Tofurky, it’s highly likely that a stuffed acorn squash is going to be in the center of your plate. Acorn squash has sweet, rich flavors that pair well with a nice full-bodied Chardonnay.
Cauliflower Gratin – Pinot Gris
Cauliflower is often used as a meat substitute, thanks to its texture. In a Gratin diners get the benefit of creamy cheese and breadcrumbs to create a very filling dish. The Pinot Gris has a bit of body and depth which goes well with the rich dish, yet not too much as to overwhelm. If you need some ideas, check out these Cauliflower Recipes.
Butternut Squash Lasagna – Beaujolais
While lasagna might seem odd to some Thanksgiving purists, this dish is the perfect main substitute. It’s hearty and filling and pairs wonderfully with a light and bright Beaujolais, which is probably a wine you’re also pouring with the Turkey.
Vegetable Stew – Zinfandel
Depending on where you are in the country, a warming stew could be just what you’re craving on Thanksgiving. For this, go with a rich, intense Zinfandel.
Mashed Potatoes – Merlot
It can’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. Sure, potatoes shouldn’t serve as your main, but you can try. For the buttery potatoes, we like a smooth merlot. You can’t go wrong.
Macaroni & Cheese – Syrah
An American staple, no table is complete without this delight. We recommend Syrah to go with all the cheesy goodness.