By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 12 May 2018
There is a growing appeal for vegan and vegetarian wines as more retailers and supermarkets highlight them on their shelves.
It might come as a surprise to some to learn that these wines actually exist – but vegan or vegetarian wines are easy to understand – they are made without the use of animal-derived fining agents.
Winemakers use certain animal products to filter out organic particles which might affect the flavour, colour or texture. The most common are isinglass (from fish bladder membranes), gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), egg albumen, chitin from crustaceans, casein, blood or bone marrow.
With the increasing number of people turning to vegetarianism, winemakers are focusing more on using mineral and plant agents like silica gel or bentonite clay. We are now seeing prominent supermarkets focus on these wines – the best of which are Marks & Spencer, Co-op and Aldi – whilst independent wine merchants are also now showing an interest.
“When I put out a sign board outside my shop telling people I sold them, I got more people coming in asking for vegan wines than for anything else, so people clearly want to know”, says Peter Wood of St Andrews Wine Company, who has been labelling his products as vegan or vegetarian since he started his business five years ago.
“For vegetarians and vegans knowing what goes into the wine is perhaps even more important than knowing what the wine tastes like”, says Wood.
So if you are a non-meat eater or just want to avoid the animal-based fining agents in your wine, check out our top twelve vegan and vegetarian wines from around the world.
Sicily: CORBELLO INZOLIA/CATARRATTO 2017
(£4.99 reduced from £7.99 until 15 May Waitrose)
A wine for vegans to enjoy as an aperitif in their hammock. Crisp clean zippy white with a hint of spice, made from two native Sicilian grapes. Very easy drinking with a jolly colourful label.
South Africa: THE PROJECT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
***STAR VALUE BUY***
If you normally drink Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, you will like the tropical fruit, grapefruit hints and minerality of this Cape Sauvignon made by two up-and-coming South African winemakers Duncan Savage, previously of Cape Point Vineyards, and Thys Louw of Diemersdal estate. Ideal match with soft goat cheese: 12.5%
Italy: PECORINO ABRUZZO CONTESA 2017
Pecorino grape makes full richly textured crisp tangy lemony dry whites with floral hints which works well with a creamy mushroom pasta dish. This is made by one of Abruzzo’s leading winemakers, Rocco Pasetti who has recently set up his own estate after working for years as senior winemaker at the local co-operative: 13%
South Africa: BRADGATE CHENIN BLANC 2015
Gary and Kathy Jordan of Jordan Estate have crafted a rich honeyed Cape Chenin Blanc with plenty of zesty tropical fruit notes and a lively dry freshness to the finish. Ideal to serve with a mushroom risotto: 13%
France: OLIVER DUBOIS TOURAINE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016
(£8.99 / £9.99 Majestic Wine)
Attractive Loire Sauvignon Blanc from a mix of vineyard soils: sand, argilo and chalk adding exotic fruit & minerality. Loved its crisp crunchy green apple flavours and zippy finish. Serve as an aperitif or with green asparagus: 12%
Spain: K-NAIA VERDEJO 2016
Bodegas Naia make the best Verdejo in the region of Rueda. Quite honeyed with full-bodied fleshy, succulent and richly leesy palate, so much better than many thin Rueda whites produced today. It is unoaked, so easy to quaff on its own, but with enough texture and minerality to match light vegetarian dishes: 13.5%
France: DOMAINE DE CASSAGNAU ROSE 2016
Dry rose makes a great choice to serve with a range of light vegetarian food without overpowering the taste of the vegetables. This Languedoc blend from near Limoux of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec is light delicate with hints of red berries: 12%
Spain: TORO LOCO RESERVA 2013 ***STAR VALUE BUY***
If you like Rioja, but don’t want to pay the price, this organic oaked blend of 50% Tempranillo, 20% Bobal, 10% Merlot & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is great value. Attractive plummy fruits, hints of vanilla and a soft smooth finish: 13%
Portugal: HERDADE DE GAMBIA 2016
(£7.99 / £9.99 Majestic Wine)
Big juicy brambly fruit bomb from Setubal peninsula. Like many Portuguese reds it is a blend: Touriga Nacional, Syrah & Aragonez work well together giving damson, cherry and peppery notes. The producers help conserve endangered the flamingos and herons in the Sado estuary – so you will be helping the local wildlife too when you buy it: 13.5%
Chile: ECHEVERRIA MERLOT RESERVA 2016
(£9.25-£9.50 St Andrews Wine Co; Great Grog, Edinburgh)
I have always like Vina Echeverria, one of the most charming and oldest of the Chilean wine families who focus on traditional methods They blend Curico, Maule and Colchagua valley fruit to create this very peppery strawberry-toned silky Merlot: 13.5%
Italy: ALLEGRINI VALPOLICELLA 2017
(£14.99 Aitken Wines in Dundee; Eusebi Deli, The Cave, Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow; Valvona & Crolla, Villeneuve Wines in Edinburgh)
Corvina grape’s bitter cherry fruits, juicy acidity and herby notes work well with vegetarian food. If you are going to buy a Valpolicella, you should head to the best producer in the region, Allegrini, who make this textbook example: 13%
Chile: OUTER LIMITS BY MONTES ZAPALLAR SYRAH 2016
(£21.99 Cornelius Wine & Beer, Edinburgh; Noel Young Wines, Cambridge)
From a tiny planting of just one hectare in its coastal Zapallar vineyard in Aconcagua Valley, Montes craft this lightly oaked smoky blackberry fruited Syrah. Shows what potential Syrah has in Chile: 14%
Join Rose’s Croatia, Slovenia & Friuli wine tasting on Thursday 7 June in Edinburgh £42 www.rosemurraybrown.com