Easter is right around the corner and a plant-based diet is trending. According to Forbes.com, 25% of 25-34 year olds in the United States cite themselves as vegans or vegetarians. So we’re exploring Vegan Wine & Easter dinner options from some of my favourite vegan resources.

When you’re walking up and down the aisles of your favourite wine shop, you often see little shelf tags shouting reasons to buy a certain bottle of wine. Everything from ’90 POINTS!’ or ‘GREAT WITH BBQ’ to ‘CERTIFIED ORGANIC’ or ‘VEGAN’. But wait, isn’t all wine vegan? Isn’t it just fermented grape juice with a few stabilizers thrown in? Sorry to burst your bubble – but no it’s not. 

I’d like to avoid getting too scientific in this particular post. If you want to learn more about what separates vegan wine from non-vegan wine, visit this succinct and informative article on vegan.com

Speri La Roverina Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2015

Approximately $25 at Private Wine Stores
Distributed by: Lifford Wine & Spirits

The Speri family first started making wine in 1874 and today there are 8 family members (representing 5th, 6th & 7th generations of the Speri lineage) that are each an integral part of the day to day operations. In 2004, pursuit of an organic certification began. It was successfully obtained in 2015 while also maintaining winemaking practises that produced wine suitable for vegan consumption.

Visually, La Roverino is light ruby with some tinged burgundy hues. Made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara and 5% Oseleta (how do you say ‘phew!’ in Italian?), the aromas and flavours were far deeper than its appearance. Bright red currant, cherry and raspberry on the nose but much more earthy on the palate. Slightly darker fruit (blackberry and black plum) flavours with dominant black spice, tomato leaf and olive flavours. Approachable tannins without too much of a punch.

  • Speri La Roverina Valpolicella Classico Superiore  - Vegan
  • Speri La Roverina Valpolicella Classico Superiore  - Vegan
  • Speri La Roverina Valpolicella Classico Superiore - Vegan

Try it with Thug Kitchen’s Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Quinoa and Cranberries along with their Herb & Mushroom Stuffing. Fair warning, Thug Kitchen throws in more than a few f-bombs into their recipes. But it’s entertaining AF to read ingredients  like “button mushrooms, cremini, or whateverthefuck you can find at the store is fine”.

Cambria Katherine’s Chardonnay ($33) & Julia’s Pinot Noir($42)

Available at Everything Wine & Private Wine Stores
Distributed by: Summit Fine Wines

If you want to see what thriving women look like, visit the Cambria website. Barbara Banke and her two daughters, Katie and Julia Jackson, are working to produce world-class wines that reflect the character of the Central Coast of California. The specific character of their Santa Maria vineyard is what sets the Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay and Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir apart. From crushed seashells in the soil to vines nearing 50 years old, the vineyards are distinctly unique and honour the generations that have passed. 

Grown, produced and bottled on the Cambria Estate, the 2015 Katherine’s Chardonnay is a light gold colour. The aromas were on the greener side to me, not much ripeness, more linear with white spice and citrus. Upon tasting, however, my perception changed dramatically. The flavours became much more fruit forward (tangerine and white peach) support by structured vanilla and oak. The texture was smooth and oh so silky. 

  • Cambria Katherine’s Chardonnay - Vegan
  • Cambria Katherine’s Chardonnay - Vegan
  • Cambria Katherine’s  Chardonnay - - Vegan

Also 100% estate produced, the 2015 Julia’s Pinot Noir is everything I like in a California Pinot Noir. From darker fruit flavours, such as jammy blackberry and blueberry, to a touch of tart pomegranate; the flavour composition was balanced with a hint of clove and earth. Beautiful lingering finish.

  • Cambria Julia's Pinot Noir
  • Cambria Julia's Pinot Noir

The versatility of pasta is what makes it my next choice for a food pairing. It’s a great option for being able to adjust on a whim. If the weather is cooler this Easter, try a comforting pasta-based casserole or if the sun is shining and birds are tweeting go for a seasonal veg inspired pasta salad. Forks and Knives has an amazing selection of vegan pasta options, scroll and drool here.

Bernard Defaix Chablis 2017

Approximately $30 at Private Wine Stores
Distributed by: Lifford Wine & Spirits

I first tasted this wine nearly three years ago. You know why I remember? Because it was one of the first blog posts I ever wrote. I’m not going to link to it, it’s horrendously written. But feel free to scroll if you’re looking for a chuckle. What isn’t horrendous is this wine. In fact, 3 vintages later – it continues to be a stellar example of what Chablis is: crisp with a mineral structure. Citrus aromas of grapefruit and lemon rind with flavours of green apple and gooseberry, it’s distinct and confident. 

  • Bernard Defaix Chablis - Vegan
  • Bernard Defaix Chablis - Vegan
  • Bernard Defaix Chablis - Vegan

What I find most enticing about Chablis is its confidence. The unoaked Chardonnay has nowhere to hide, no barrel, no cellar – just pure varietal characteristics. It allows for a wide array of pairings, which is why I’m going to suggest one of my favourite things in the world for an Easter dinner menu, a taco bar! Put out an array of flavour filled ingredients that can be mixed and matched without a plan. Or, you could follow a few different recipe options and let guests choose their own adventure. 
Each of the following vegan taco recipes are from Hot For Food and they all making me want to book a vacation to Mexico – like yesterday!
Roasted Pablano Jackfruit Tacos with Adobo Cream Sauce
Butternut Squash Tacos with Jalapeño Ranch
Easy Vegan Tacos

Reyneke Syrah 2010

Sourced from personal collection
Not currently available for sale in BC

Once upon a time, I had a wine allowance at my work, $50 a month I could spend on any wine in our company’s portfolio. More often than not, I would buy 4 bottles of our most inexpensive Argentinean Malbec. But every once and awhile I’d splurge on a special bottle. The 2010 Reyneke Syrah was one of those special bottles. For the past 7 years, I would debate whether a particular evening would justify its opening. A 30th birthday? A 5-year wedding anniversary? The first time we hosted Christmas dinner? Nope, nope and nope. Not until last Friday when the subjects on the sale of our home were removed did my husband and I decide to crack it open. 

I let it breathe for an hour (could have done more but I already waited 7 years, I didn’t want to wait any longer!) It was big and heavy on the nose with large doses of coffee and cedar with ripe blackberry and spice. The sips were heavy too (read: medium plus bodied) with toast, tobacco and leather. Tannins were big but not cloying and the finish had a gritty texture. While better suited for a meal, I happily sipped on it without a food pairing.

Reyneke Syrah - Vegan

If I were to choose something to go with it, I’d go with a recipe with A LOT of flavour to match the boldness of the wine.  Arguably one of the most satisfying vegan meals I’ve ever had, this version of Korean Vegan Beef (from Erin Ireland’s It’s To Do Forwebsite) is an easy choice for me. IT. IS. SO. DELICIOUS. And you’d never know its vegan (said every vegan to every non-vegan always). 

I hope this has inspired you to be creative with your Easter meal. Try something you’ve never attempted before, in both your wine and food choices!