Do you find vegans take themselves too seriously? Lacking a bit in the fun department? Well get ready to smash those stereotypes with Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans by Natalie Slater. I was sent a promotional copy, checked out some of the recipes, and the wheels started turning.
You might wonder what interest a wine blogger has in vegan baking? The answer: A LOT. Not only do I refuse to be fenced into a narrow category, but there’s so much more to food and wine pairing than just steak and Cabernet. Why do the meat and dairy eaters (myself included) get to have all the fun when it comes to having fermented grape juice at the dinner (or lunch) table? Boo!
I also had many things in my favor when undertaking this vegan food and wine exploration. For starters, Bake and Destroy has a back cover blurb from CakeSpy. So, as someone who is familiar with Jessie’s work, I knew if it had her magical seal of sweetness I wouldn’t have to worry about much else.
I am also fortunate enough to have a friend, Helen, who is not only vegan but has her own blog, Vegtastic. (Check out her excellent take on our baking adventure here. She also includes a photo of her cat wearing a scarf. Which is adorable.) We teamed up to make Natalie’s Green Bean Casserole Pizza, which combines two of the greatest things to ever grace the world of eating:
Seriously, what could be better? Well, how about two wines to match? I chose dry Riesling to provide a refreshing counterpart to the rich “cream” sauce. They are also snappy, vegetable-loving wines that would be nice with the green beans. The wines:
2011 Weingut Stadt Krems Steinerrassen Riesling (Austria)
2013 Pewsy Vale Eden Valley Dry Riesling (Australia)
Both wines were sample bottles sent to me, have zero sweetness, and are vegan-friendly. What does the latter mean? Well, there is a process in winemaking known as fining. To get technical, you put something in a tank of wine that attracts particles floating around. Stuff that the winemakers don’t want in the final product that, for example, could affect the color or flavor. Some of the items used to fine wine can include egg whites and (seriously) fish bladders. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to open a bottle of wine, try and pour a glass, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A FISH BLADDER IN MY WINE! GAH!!! But, if you are a vegan reading this, it’s something to note. (Bentonite, a type of clay, is a vegan-friendly fining agent.)
While both bottles are excellent examples of disproving the notion that Riesling=sweet, if you can’t find these exact bottles, I encourage you to try any Austrian Riesling you can get your hands on. And when it comes to Australian Riesling, look for bottles from the Eden Valley (like the Pewsey Vale) or the Clare Valley. These are the top spots for Aussie Riesling.
I like what Helen has to say about being vegan. She admits that some of the stereotypes fit: “I’m crazy about my cat, love thrifting, get around town by bike, and am still on the email list for a local ultimate Frisbee team.” However, she continues, “I really just want to show that veganism isn’t difficult or weird, and you don’t have to fit any sort of mold to embrace it.”
With more and more people embracing ideas like Meatless Monday, there’s going to be a bigger demand for wines to match these meals. I, for one, am ready for the challenge.
I’ll even bring the (vegan-friendly) wine, and raise a toast to those who break the mold in their own unique way.