Nuts are a great, aren’t they? There’s so much protein, fibre, and good fat packed into these little chunks of goodness. For vegetarians and vegans in particular, they’re a great way to get Omega-3, iron, selenium and magnesium, not to mention adding flavour and crunch to meals. With evidence suggesting that eating nuts daily can reduce risks of chronic diseases like heart disease and high cholesterol, all of us should consider adding more to our diets.
I’ve been on a bit of a nut hype recently. As it turns out, there are so many ways to pair nuts with wine! In the past, an evening spent enjoying wine might have demanded a cheese or meat platter, but when it comes to being a wine lover and a vegan, I really think we should be looking further afield than simply trying to pair vegan cheese with wine. (Not that that isn’t enjoyable, it definitely is!). So, here’s a quick guide to pairing nuts and wines, as well as a few suggestions.
Different Nuts Need Different Wines
May sound obvious, but it’s true: nuts are all different, so it goes without saying that they all suit different wines. Naturally sweet, buttery nuts – like Macadamia and Brazil nuts- will work beautifully with the zesty fizz of a rich, vibrant Champagne. A different avenue, however, would be a sweeter style rosé like Hungarian, which tend to have stunning strawberries and cream flavours. Hazelnuts and Walnuts are earthy, but in different ways; where Walnuts go best with Pinot Noir, Hazelnuts pair with rosé. Toast them whole with sage and butter, however, and they’d buddy up with a brut sparkling wine incredibly well.
Which nicely on to my next point: how nuts are prepared affects the wine pairing.
Raw vs Roasted Matters
Like most food, nuts taken on wildly different characteristics when cooked compared to when they are raw.
The subtle sweetness and earthiness of raw almonds match best to crisp whites, but need less minerality – opt for unoaked, cool-climate Chardonnay. On the flip-side, toasted almonds are best with Pinot Noir.
And hearty, sweet roasted chestnuts? It has to be Merlot.
Salted Nuts and Crisp Wines
A salty food can make wine taste bitter and in red wines especially, can accentuate the alcohol . Tannin (found in red and rosé wine) can also make food taste even saltier.
The ideal wine for salty nuts is crisp and acidic- like Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and dry rosé – or fruity, like Pinot Grigio.
A brut zero or ultra brut (super dry) sparkling wine can work really, really well with salty food. Bubbles and crunch is such a winning contrast, too!
Smoked Nuts and Smoky Wines
Like aged Pinot Noir or South African Pinotage. Medium- bodied red wines are recommended for smoked meat, but I’m unsure if the same applies for red wine and smoked nuts given the texture, fats and actual smokiness will be different. You’d also be hard-pressed to find smoked but not salted nuts, I think! Willing to try this one once, though.
Earthy nuts like Walnuts bring out earthy notes in Pinot Noir.
Sweet Nuts with White Wines
With sugar and wine, you have two choices: match sweet for sweet, or contrast sweet with acidity.
For roasted, candied nuts, I’d want a demi-sec Champagne to cut through the richness of roasted nuts, and to stand up to the sugar.
Your best wine choice for lightly sugared nuts is Riesling, which tend to have a beautifully harmonious balance of acidity and fruit. Make them sweet and spiced nuts, and you’re on to a winner, there.
And what about wines for fruit and nut mix? Dried cranberries, cherries and sultanas might work nicely with a lighter fruity red, like Rioja, or bring out the strawberry and jammy notes of some Pinot Noir. Add in pieces of dark chocolate, and you’ve not only made yourself the ultimate snack, you’ve found yourself a very good food pairing for red wines on the bigger side; try it with Syrah, maybe even a Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon if you’re feeling curious.
With these basic tips for pairing wine with nuts, nut and wine fans can enjoy a new experimental wine pairing every evening. As well as the ones already mentioned, here’s a few to get the ball rolling.
6 Interesting Nut & Wine Pairing Ideas:
- Salted Pistachios and Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio /Gris.
- Toasted Almonds and Pinot Noir
- Roasted Chestnuts or Pecans with Merlot
- Sultanas and Walnuts with Tawny Port
- Candied Hazelnuts with Sparkling Rosé.
Last but not least….
- Dark chocolate, dried cherries, walnuts and Valpolicella Ripasso or a young Barolo. I honestly can’t wait to try this wine nut pairing – a Barolo is top of my wine shopping list!