Vegetarian Wine Pairing Guide for Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is perhaps the most popular and well-known of the “noble grape varieties”. Run into someone on the street who knows little about wine and ask them to name a grape, they’ll probably say Pinot Noir. It’s the red that people who “don’t like” red wine pick. A light-bodied wine that pairs well with many foods and is easy to drink on its own, this crowd-pleaser is one of the best reds for vegan and vegetarian wine pairings. Let this guide be your source for pairing your next bottle of Pinot Noir with your favorite plant-based meal.

Pinot Noir, like all wines, can be expressed in nearly infinite ways. A vintner could use Pinot Noir to make sparkling wine, a dry wine, a sweet wine, and even a white wine (i.e. no skin contact). For the purpose of this guide, however, let’s focus on classic expressions from the two largest producers: California and France.

Pinot Noir Flavor Profile

Classic Pinot Noir is going to be red fruit-forward, a little earthy, and with a hint of baking spices. Think cherry, red raspberry, mushroom, and clove.

chart outline the sweetness, body, tannin, and acidity of a classic pinot noir

When grown and produced in France, Pinot Noir leans more floral and earthy – think hibiscus, rose, and potting soil. A wine for a garden-lover, no?

On the other hand, California Pinot is much more rich and fruity. Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and spice will be the stars here. Again, these are just typical styles – there are plenty of unique variations that vintners are creating all over the world!

Regardless of where a bottle of Pinot Noir is produced, the wine will almost always be dry, lighter bodied with high acidity and low tannins which make it a slam dunk for vegetarian wine pairings.

The Best Plant-Based Pairings for Pinot Noir

The relatively high acidity and low tannin of Pinot Noir make it incredibly easy to pair with food. Especially if you’re in mixed company i.e. meat-eaters and vegans, Pinot Noir will work for both parties. It’s just as good with veggie pizza as it is with “meat lovers”.

vegetarian pairings for pinot noir including mushroom risotto, veggie pizza, eggplant, and gruyere

So – what’s the star of your dish? If it’s any of the following, Pinot Noir is your pick:

Cheeses (Gruyere, Brie)
Root vegetables
Beans (any kind)

Safe bets are bean burgers, beet salad, mushroom risotto, polenta dishes, roast, white pizza, anything with truffles, and cheeses like Brie and Gruyère.

Below are some of my own favorite recipes to pair with a Pinot Noir:

Truffled Beet Burgers

Mushroom Stroganoff

Cast Iron Mushroom Meatballs

Some people like to say that red wine is only meant for meat but they obviously don’t know the power of Pinot Noir. Its versatility makes Pinot a no-brainer solution to your vegetarian wine pairing quandaries.

Sydney Isaacs
Sydney Isaacs

Sydney is a 29-year old American living between France and Italy. She has a WSET Level 2 certification in wine, along with a degree in environmental engineering and an MBA. She loves exploring local farmer’s markets, haunting her favorite wine bar, and discovering new restaurants.

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