Does vegan wine actually exist? Discuss

Fellow Wine Lovers,

4 degrees.

That was the morning temperature for a couple of days earlier this week. Those are not September temperatures (average low 11 degrees); those are more in keeping with late November. Wayne, we’ve definitely seen the end of shorts weather, put some trousers on, please.

Basically, err, like, umm, yeah – does this sound anything like a one of the more erudite conversations you’ve had with a teenager recently? Well, actually these are the most annoying and most often used filler words, apparently, by like, all of us. It would seem, so the study says, that we are generally sounding far less intelligent thanks to our increased use of words to plug gaps where facts or sensible information used to reside – but that’s ok really innit, because uh, you know, literally everybody does it, right?


In the wacky world of wine, we learnt of a new event this week – Vegan Winefulness, which is taking place in October, in Shoreditch, obvs. Now, we’ve all know someone who has done a bit of mindfulness in recent years – the opportunity to de-stress, slow down, achieve self-enlightenment and wisdom has been popular amongst people working in high pressure environments and has replaced boxing or boozing as means of pressure release. From mindfulness evolved winefulness – following a similar ethos of slowing down, thinking what’s in the glass and where it’s come from and generally just engaging a bit more. It seems, as anyone who has been on our wine course will know, that we have been wineful for a number of years now, as this slower approach to tasting is one of the first things we teach. However, I digress.

It would be unfair to say that Winefulness is jumping on the Mindfulness bandwagon. Of course it would. In a similar fashion, it would be unchivalrous to suggest that attaching the word Vegan to Winefulness is also bandwagon jumping. Of course it would. There are more than half a million vegans in this country now and thus it is absolutely right that there should be some sort of vinous acknowledgement of this – they want to know what’s in their glass and if they can drink it.

I worry that one major risk is that the terms organic, biodynamic, vegetarian and vegan are all becoming tangled up with each other – an assumption being that if your winemaker is following one of these principles he’s probably following them all. No evidence shows this to be true. The truth is, there’s an awful lot of vegan wine out there and a large portion of it is neither organic nor biodynamic but hopefully vegetarian.

We’re currently making a list of all our wines credentials – thus far I have checked 96 bottles and 45 of them are vegan. Less than half but not by much. In the same list, at this point vegetarian wines are in a 2:1 majority; 2/3 of the organic wines we’ve tracked so far are vegan but, at the same time, 33 of the wines are vegan but not organic. Confused? Don’t be. Suffice to say, making wine vegan is the way forward, not necessarily for purely ethical reasons but more for commercial sense – it’s cheaper and more people can drink it. At the end of the day, who can absolutely guarantee that a small creeping insect, a butterfly, a birds egg or anything of animal provenance didn’t get caught up in the industrial picking machine or crushed amongst the grapes in the hand pickers bucket? Ergo, does vegan wine actually exist? Discuss. You have one hour, starting now…

Time to get off one hobby horse and onto another. Today we go to war. In France, of all places, and as a United Europe, of all things. The Ryder Cup kicked off in Paris today, Europe have a brilliant record in Europe and the USA have only won twice here since 1979. Not that this should mean anything of course but I sure as hell hope it does!

So, I must open some American wine and some European wine – handily I have both. My initial theory with Europe was to have a wine from the country with the most representatives in the team, however since there are 5 Englishmen in there, I’m going to look at the second most represented country. This would be Sweden. And Spain, thank goodness. Luckily, Graeme McDowell isn’t playing; otherwise we might be considering the wines of Northern Ireland…

From the USA, we’ll revisit a wine we had on tasting a few months back but one that fits the bill so well, it needs a second outing: Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2016 – £16.49.
Based in the Livermore Valley in California, Wente’s vineyards were founded in 1883 and are still owned and managed by the same family, 4 generations later. They were also one of the first to plant Chardonnay and one taste of this suggests they are doing a fine job. Crisp with fine elegant apple notes and a supporting touch of oak, a real food wine and great for watching the golf highlights too.

As stated, Sergio and John are providing the European wine: Solà Fred 2010 – £12.99.
This wine is from the super-cool region of Montsant, in the hills behind Tarragona in Catalonia. It is 100% Carignan and gives us deliciously black cherry and earthy aromas. The palate has a real depth of juicy richness with a little spice to the fruit on the finish. We love the way it has a little of its rustic heritage yet finishes with real polish and panache – like the European team!

That’s pretty much it from us for now.

As a warning , we’ll be opening late on Tuesday next, the 2nd October.

We have to go to one of the biggest tastings of the year for us with a view to Christmas wines etc and it’s taking place in Camden which might as well be Cambridge for us SW19 dwellers. We’ll be back for the evening rush but I suspect not a great deal before – sorry.

And so we’re gone – just remember, the postman always delivers…!

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