Wine Talk

Snooth User: jamessulis

Diet Change with Wine questions

Posted by jamessulis, May 4, 2017.

Hey fellow Snoothers,

Haven't written in quite a while due to a slow down in wine consumption.

Reason being I have switched my diet to Vegan, that means for those of you who don't know I do not consume any meat, poultry, pork, beef, fish. I also have discontinued all forms of Dairy.

I did this for many reasons. Upon initiating it for more than a year ago, I was healthy, still am healthy and possible more healthy. Any way, I feel great but have had some difficulty pairing wines with my new diet. Consequently I have reduced my consumption to about 1 bottle per month, (hardly respectable for a Snoother.) 

Any information regarding Vegan/Wine will be greatly appriciated from people who's opinions and comments I trust



The Great Pacific Northwest

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 4, 2017.

I was a vegetarian for many years, and I'd say more of what I ate went with white.  But strong umami flavors are still out there, like mushrooms, that can handle reds.  With less obvious fat in the diet, tannins aren't as appealing, so pinot, grenache and the like can be more appealing.  But stronger flavored squashes and the like and things that undergo browning, like breadcrumb toppings and the like, also pair well with stronger reds.  High acid reds with tomato based dishes are good, too.  You're just going to want to back down a little on some of the most tannic things. Miso based gravies can also up the umami so that you can go with a stronger flavor. 

Vegetable curries can pair well with whites, and depending on the spiciness, you may want to go with sweeter things, like Spatleses.  Also sparkling wines can be really flexible with these kinds of meals.  When I was a vegetarian, I did drink more white wines, and stayed away from those with oaky profiles. 

I'd probably have more trouble finding things I wanted to eat than finding things to drink with them, to be honest.  But here's a thought:  Go to ethnic restaurants that serve lots of vegan compatible things, like Indian, Vietnamese, Thai places.  Find ones that do wine pairings and talk to the server or sommelier about how to match those.  This article, while poorly written and orgainized, IMO, has some good ideas about pairing. For a "chemisty" look at it, I found this. Searching "vegan wine pairing" turns up a lot of information, not all of it good, but you can try things out and decide who to believe.

In addition to possibly doing your own health a favor, you are probably helping the planet (especially if you can get more people on board). You'll reduce your carbon footprint quite a bit. 

Reply by rckr1951, May 4, 2017.

JAMES - Good to hear from you again and your honesty is appreciated and admired. Richard is right on in his suggestions - especially the bubbly and sweeter wines.  We eat vegan more than we used to and riesling has played a big part in getting my wife to eat it.

You are correct, also, about reds - especially tannic reds.  I tend to research and ask others about what to pair in that case.  Interesting I've found that there are many acceptable reds within each category that fit the bill, smooth or light tannic imprints are available from Bordeaux to Cali to Oz.....

Good - I'll be interested in reading your posts on your journey - your recommendations will be appreciated. 

Reply by Lucha Vino, May 5, 2017.

One other thing to pay attention to is how the wines you select are filtered and fined.  Many wineries use egg white to fine their wines, which would make the wine "non-vegan."  Good luck with your diet and wine exploration.  I will be curious to learn more about your journey!

Reply by GregT, May 5, 2017.

Roasted veggies can match with red wines IMO. Squash, either summer or winter, carrots, turnips, fennel broccolini, etc. And with herbs even more so. Then there are beans, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

Reply by dmcker, May 5, 2017.

Drizzling olive oil over the roasted veggies make them even more friendly to reds. Think about what people eat where the wine has been produced the longest. Certainly legume dishes, mushrooms, various potatoes and squash, as Greg mentions. Italian and Greek dishes (and Turkish and 'Balkan' and Spanish and southern French and Levantine, too) can be friendlier to reds. Or perhaps I've just been most successful with a vegan-with-red match when I've taken hints from those cuisines. Tomato sauces are a no-brainer for acidic reds, too.

About every three years I find myself in a vegan phase, which obviously means no animal products of any kind, and for a 6~12 month period half of it will be vegan, and half vegetarian. In recent years even when not on those regimes I find my consumption of meat has dropped greatly and there will be vegetarian days in the week. I go to vegetarian as opposed to vegan when I get frustrated with how much I have to eat to get enough protein, and the addition of dairy helps lessen that. By the time I find myself craving/eating a lot of eggs and then fish I realize I'm over the vegan/vegetarian for awhile.

Living in Japan and having traveled extensively in Asia there are a lot of traditional options for me. Unfortunately many don't match well with wine, IMHO, and I'll part ways with Richard when talking about miso and wine, unless it's only a mild hint of the stuff in the soup or sauce (one exception is a decadent miso/peanut or almond or macadamia paste/cheese/tomato/basil sauce I occasionally make, but that's not vegan, and the cheese and tomato and nuts seem to greatly change miso's behavior so it's fine with red). Soy sauce doesn't match wine for me, either. Most traditional tofu dishes are heading in another direction than wine wants to go, though deep fried atsu-age tofu and replacement dishes like saag-dofu (not panir) can work, even if precariously. So I find myself more often drinking beer, sake, shaosing wine, maybe some hardstuff or tea with them. Dishes from Buddhist shojin ryouri (Japanese style vegetarian feasts traditionally for the priests) would only work with whites, non-oaked. I really prefer to find matches where the wine complements the food and works with it, rather than clashing and heading off in some radically different direction.

If you bake your own breads, particularly, then there are all sorts of variations that can work well with various wines. I mixed some tofu and ground sesame into an oats, barley and wheat loaf baked yesterday and it matched well with a Serbian red last night. Also had some homemade vegan baked beans (no fatback) and carrot salad with peanuts and dried cranberries. No problems with that wine match. I feel myself about to emerge from the most recent vegan phase, though (I was wanting to put some butter and even honey on that bread), so I'll probably be out of it before the month ends (it started last October with a few backslides, especially during the holiday season, several of which I've posted here). I did lose 10kg, so that's all good. My life had gotten too sedentary with too much office work so I changed that, too, and thus will be able to eat richer and still not regain that padding (or so I'm telling myself--it's definitely easier for the padding to accrue as you get older...).

Reply by GregT, May 5, 2017.

"it's definitely easier for the padding to accrue as you get older..."

And harder to remove it. I used to drop five pounds in a weekend no problem, without really reducing my intake. Now a single extra peanut seems to expand it's mass exponentially once ingested.

But I was thinking as you were - the Meditteranean and Middle Eastern diets feature lots of vegetables and not so much meat and that's where wine is from, although people weren't necessarily spending hours puzzling over pairings - they ate what they had and drank what they made. Luckily, those herbs really help. Maybe also we're used to having them with meats, so we associate them in our brains - rosemary crusted lamb or rosemary and grilled root vegetables just seem to work with most wine IMO. Also roasted alliums of any kind.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 5, 2017.

But stronger flavored squashes and the like and things that undergo browning, like breadcrumb toppings and the like, also pair well with stronger reds.

What I said. 
So I should clarify a little about the miso thing:  For vegans who like to reproduce some of the meatier flavors and dishes, sometimes a meat substitute or nutloaf topped with a gravy substitute can be a way to fill that need.  I wouldn't really do wine with miso soup, agreed. 
Really good point that using more fat in the form of oils added to things can open the palette (yes, I mean like the kind a painter uses) so you can vary the wines and drink higher tannin stuff. 
Oddly enough, we had vegetarian dinner last night, which is not itself odd, but I paired the risotto (NOT vegan--lots of dairy in the meal) with a nebbiolo from Washington.  That's a grape with serious tannins.
It's also a good point that lots of folks in wine producing regions just couldn't have meat all the time but had lots of fresh produce for much of the year and drank whatever was on hand.  A lot to be said for that. 
Okay, here's how I can keep my boyish figure:  1) I don't eat seconds, eat desserts, or eat anything after 8 p.m.  All rules that occasionally get broken, but they keep me in check.  2) I go to trial and lose 10-15 pounds between nausea--once I get in the courtroom, it goes away, but from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., it's butterflies in the stomach--and the mania of having to be working all the time.  Longer trials mean more weight loss.  Probably taking years off my life, but we'll just have to see.
Good to see you back on here, and looking after yourself. 
Reply by jamessulis, May 5, 2017.

I didn't expect so many reply's to my post about being Vegan. Since being vegan, I've dropped 45 lbs which was jelly anyway and am now quite fit.

Fox: Thanks for all the tips, it seems that if I have a heavy Cabernet which I so love, I usually pair it with nuts, that seems to do the trick. I have naturally gravitated to more of the whites which somehow due to my change in diet seem more satisfying to my palate. Thanks also for the nice links.

Luca: ​Enormous tip with the eggshell fining, never realized it. Found a website that you can research individual brands and varietals of wine to check for animal content.

Dmcker ​As usual you're always the most informed guy on the planet (at least here at Snooth) Thanks for your knowledge. As far as the protein, most American's eat way too much animal protein which has been linked to a myriad of health problems. I seem to be able to get enough protein from tofu, vegetables, soy, beans, etc. My wife was asked how she gets enough protein by her doctor (she's vegan also and has been for 9 years) She changed doctors. When the Farmer asked the Cow how she got her protein, she promptly said, I dunno, I hate chicken but seem to survive.

GregT: Being vegan is much easier to maintain weight and it's relatively new to me but I used to worry about gaining the padding also. However I'm now accustomed to getting on the scale and smiling at the ease of holding my weight steady.

RCK:As I continue my vegan journey if I come across a magical solution, I'll post again but it looks like amongst the guys who answered my query, I'm well along the road to pairing with what's out there. Thanks

Reply by dmcker, May 6, 2017.

"And harder to remove it. I used to drop five pounds in a weekend no problem, without really reducing my intake."

Up to even a decade ago that was the case. Two decades ago or earlier a long weekend of climbing or tournaments in warm Asian countries or intense ocean sports meant increasing the voraciousness of food consumption and still losing 10 pounds in 3 days. Up through my mid 20s I'd win foolish eating competitions and in my daily life maintain my 'bottomless pit' nickname and still be 6'3" 180 lbs. Then I fleshed out a bit and now my fighting weight would be 200lbs but I'm OK up to 220 depending on what I need to be doing. But I can't do those same weekends since I don't have the 'sinews of youth' I once did. Knees and desire just aren't there. Plus my raquetball/squash and other partners have all relocated. Was heading north of 220 last September so slipped into this vegan/vegetarian phase and began walking >50km a week (3 yrs ago it was ~100kms/week, hmmm). Aging blows. Also can't consume the volume of wine I once did. Seem to be wussing out...

Fox, haven't had the problem/advantage of the nausea you mention, though I've heard it described by a variety of trial lawyers and other friends who suffer from it before big games, battle (helicopter upchucks on the way in) and other upcoming 'trials' of intense, risky nature.

James, my rule-of-thumb target for daily protein consumption is one gram per kilogram of body weight (and that's 'real' weight, not excess flab), more if I'm in training for a specific event. So you can see that can add up to a lot of beans and rice and oatmeal and tofu, etc. over time. Not as much miso and soy sauce because of all that salt content. So what do you think, will you be staying vegan indefinitely, or are you occasionally dreaming of meat?

Reply by jamessulis, May 6, 2017.

DMCKER : Becoming a vegan was easier than I thought it would be. My wife is vegan of 9 years so I was familiar with the food, spices and what to watch for to make sure the food I bought was vegan.

As far as dreaming of meat, as mentioned cutting meat and dairy was ok for me and I have no desire to back track. I feel better, look better and have peace of mind.

We recently came back from a cruise in the Caribbean called the Holistic Vegan Cruise. Vegan food, vegan chefs and all the top authors, doctors in the vegan medical world giving seminars and discussions on the vegan philosophy.

The weather was beautiful.


Reply by dmcker, May 10, 2017.

Not only fell off the vegan wagon, but vegetarian as well. Back to being a carnivore after burger and sushi dinners out a couple nights in succession, and southern-style fried chicken dinner at home the next night. Good German riesling, and company, with the chicken. Earlier sushi was 'jizake' (local 'craft' sake) though one of my mates passed some Macon Villages around. Didn't persuade me to switch. First night back to primal meat eating with the burger was good craft beer, and plenty of it since the day was warm.

Have a rooftop BBQ event coming up before it gets too warm up there, and am putting my thinking cap on as to what to serve....

Reply by outthere, May 10, 2017.

"I feel better, look better and have peace if mind."

Great! In that case can you update your profile pic? ;-)

Reply by jamessulis, May 10, 2017.


Let's check to see if it posted

Reply by jamessulis, May 10, 2017.

OK, here it is. Just so you know this is a very recent picture and I was born March 21st, 1943. That makes me 74 years old.


I have never had surgery with the exception of a fractured femur when I was 18 years old

Reply by dmcker, May 10, 2017.

Lookin' good, James. 

Reply by outthere, May 10, 2017.

I was joking, but well done!


Reply by GregT, May 10, 2017.

Hilarious OT.

James, you look like you're ready to tangle with a mean looking carrot! Well done!

I have a friend who announced a few years ago that he was going vegan. He'd found a vegan restaurant near work and was going there every day for lunch. Insisted that I accompany him (I never quite managed to) and went on a rant about how we eat too much meat and processed food and we should stick with things that come directly from the ground, etc.

A few weeks later he invites me to his house for dinner. We go and there are a few other people and he has bits of ham and cheese and sausage set out and his wife has made a big pot of stew.

As we sat down to eat, I mention "I thought you were a vegan?"

He looks at the big Cabs he has sitting out and then looks at me like I'm a complete idiot.

"For lunch!" he screams. And then, as he serves the stew, goes on about how we eat too much meat. Still makes me laugh.


Reply by jamessulis, May 11, 2017.


I mentioned in my original post needing help with my wine choices not my diet

Too many times people try to influence others, including friends to switch over to their way of life. Whether it's diet, religious, political. I guess that's the way of people and life.

I try not to influence others with my beliefs and food choices is high on the list. I care for other people but i do not care what their beliefs are as it's their choices, not mine

 Let's face it, a BLT is nothing without the BACON, LETTUCE & TOMATO. I hope that inspires both  the Vegan and the Carnivore in all of us.


Reply by outthere, May 11, 2017.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 11, 2017.

OT, what if I cut out gluten?  Then it looks like this:


Okay, stupid joke. 

When I was a vegetarian, I tried not to be preachy.  At one point, I worked at this place that was very old school GOP.  Then- VP George HW Bush would call the partner I worked for from the campaign trail (this is summer of 1988) because our guy was a finance chairman. (He was also part of the Reagan administration and had some other interesting connections.)  Others had been high level staffers in the Ford years, the CEO was CIA station chief in Saigon before the escalation, and they were all members of the Bohemian Club.  They didn't bother me about my politics because I made them money, but one day EC (the partner I worked with the most) asks me, as we're going out to lunch, if I'm a vegetarian for health reasons or for moral reasons.  I said, "Health reasons.  It's much better for the animals if you don't kill them." 

GregT, your story reminds me of the former NYT food writer Mark Bittman, who promotes the "vegan before 6 p.m." diet.  But don't go preaching about animal welfare and then buy factory raised meat for dinner.  Yikes. 

Lefty, you are seriously looking good.  Keep doing whatever you're doing.  Glad to have you back.

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