Vegan nut cheese. Photo credit: arievergreen on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA
What happens if you’re lactose intolerant with an affinity for wine and cheese pairings? We have news for you.

Wikus Human, winner of Moët & Chandon’s Best Young Sommelier 2017, and head sommelier at Marble, says vegan cheese and white wines are a match made in heaven.

“Admittedly, for most people, red wine is the go-to partner for cheese. However, the issue with red wine, especially a full-bodied red, is that it can overpower all but the most robust of vegan cheeses. White wine, fortified wines and lighter red wines are often a much better match,” says Human.

Soy may be the most common ingredient for any plant-based animal-product substitute – and cheese is no exception. 

“A complementary way is to create a ‘salty-sweet’ pairing by matching a sparkling Moscato or Brachetto d’Acqui. These wines act like plum sauce or mirin would and create a teriyaki-like flavour when paired with soy dishes,” says Human. 

Fauxmage specialises in vegan cheeses made from nuts and seeds; Camembert and cream cheese chevres made from raw cashews, which are then fermented and matured. “Only natural ingredients and flavourings are used in these cheeses, and outer packaging is made from recycled paper,” says Boshof. 

A glass of chardonnay. Picture: Tom McCorkle/Washington Post
Some of the most popular ingredients for nut- and seed-based cheeses include macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. These types are most popular because they’re relatively easy to make at home. Human suggests pairing a nut- and seed-based vegan cheese with a drier, wooded Chardonnay.

Another popular vegan-cheese base is coconut milk, cream and oil. Coconut’s high-fat content makes for a creamy, cheese-like product, but usually requires additional ingredients like agar-agar, carrageenan, cornstarch, tapioca and/or potato starch to mimic the density and texture of real cheese. 

“Because coconut has a strong flavour on its own that isn’t reminiscent of cheese, other flavour-boosting ingredients are typically added,” says Surette de Beer, representative of Utterly Udderless Cheeky Vegan Cheeze, creators of hand crafted organic, non-GMO vegan cheese.

Human suggests pairing a cheese like this with an off-dry Gewurztraminer white wine with aromas that include rose, pear, citrus and spice to best complement it.