Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vegan Wine - HYO Wine Club

VEGAN: The biggest growing health trend at the moment, with now over 500,000 vegans in the UK (more than 3.5 times the number 10 years ago). As soon as I mention vegan wine to most people, it is swiftly followed by the question: isn't all wine vegan?! And the answer is: mostly, no.

You'd think that picking grapes, fermenting them and putting the liquid in a bottle would be a vegan process, but wine-making is far more complicated than that. Animal products are often used during the fining process. After filtering (removing the lumpy bits in the wine leftover from the fermentation process), the wine must go through a process called fining, which is where the small particles that make a wine hazy are removed. Most consumers expect, and prefer, their wine to be clear. It is only natural wines that you will usually find are hazy. To remove the small particles a compound must be stirred into the wine that attracts the proteins in the particles, and then the compound with particles attached is removed. Many wines will have gone through this process with the use of isinglass (a protein found in the float bladder of a fish). To make a vegetarian wine the winemaker may choose to use casein (milk protein) or albumin (egg protein). To make a vegan wine bentonite clay is used.

I also get asked: Do vegan wines taste nice? Well, there shouldn't be much difference, and if the winemaker has taken care to fine the wine well enough using a vegan method, you'll probably find they care enough to make a decent wine! At our next pop up wine bar in Marlow on 26th October 2018, we will be serving a flight of vegan wines. If you're hosting your own wine night, why not try these vegan wines (or others) to see if you can notice any difference to what you normally drink. Majestic have over 30 vegan wines, and here are three that taste wonderful and offer great value for money.

Excellence Ormarine Picpoul
£9.99 (£8.99 Mix Six)
Picpoul translates as 'lip-stinger' - a nickname due to its high acidity. The Picpoul (or Piquepoul) grape is grown in the Langedoc region in Southwest France. Picpoul de Pinet only became an appellation in 2013 and was often previously used to make Vermouth. This crisp white wine can be easily spotted by its slender green bottle and is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent with seafood and shellfish, traditional Mediterranean cuisine, and cheese... and chocolate!

Rey Noble Garnacha
£10.99 (£9.99 Mix Six)
This Garnacha (or Grenache) was grown in the Navarra region of Spain. A vibrant unaoked red wine with cherry and raspberry aromas. This medium-bodied red is easy drinking, yet has a lovely earthiness that will go well with rustic food like BBQ and burgers. This wine can be served slightly chilled. 'Rey Noble' means 'Noble King' and the giant blue heart on the label represents the blue blood and kindness of Navarra's King Carlos III. 

Vinalba Malbec Bonarda
£9.99 (£8.49 Mix Six)
When we think about wine from Argentina we almost always think of Malbec. However, Bonarda is Argentina's second most widely planted red grape and is making its way onto the UK wine scene. Bonarda produces wines that are fruit-forward with quite high acidity, adding a balance to the tannins when blended with Malbec. Black cherry, plum and allspice characteristics, with a floral aroma.

But then you could say that no wine is ever truly vegan... If you've ever visited a vineyard during harvest, you will know that all sorts of bugs and spiders get picked along with the grapes and will sometimes get missed from the sorting table before the grapes are pressed. I'll leave you with that thought!

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