When you hear dry January is now being usurped by vegan-uary you know there has been a seismic shift towards the vegan and organic wine movement. It is thought that around 40% of wine lists now make a point of having at least one such wine.
It may sound odd that not all wines are vegan. It refers of course to those items which are used to clarify wine which may be derived from animals derivatives such as bones and blood - enough to set the pulse racing of any decent vegan!
Winemakers of vegan wines have two main sources of clarifying agents. Bentonite clay, which does the same job as eggs, and the most natural way, which is to not fine the wine at all.
With this method, the winemaker leaves the wine in the barrel over winter and lets gravity settle all the particles to the bottom, the clear wine is then carefully taken out the barrel. Sometimes this means the wine is not as crystal clear, but does allow chemical free wines to be made. Because of the lack of these chemicals, and the way grapes are allowed to grow in their natural state for vegan wines they can be described as being much fresher and fruitier, and this can be used when considering food and wine matching.
For those who can cope with blood and bones, veganism is still a lifestyle choice, with several perceived health benefits. Certainly less use of chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, with many vegan wines also being organic. In the filtration part of winemaking no artificial or synthetic additives are used.
Sulphites are blamed for many a headache in the morning after drinking wine. Whilst not all vegan wines have no sulphites, the level can be much lower. Sulphites are in fact a natural by product of the fermentation process.
Presently there is no rule to force a wine grower to state what process is used to clarify the wine, and not all vegan wines are therefore labelled as such. However, with more of the big supermarkets stocking and insisting that this is indicated on the bottle, this will surely mean the better educated wine drinker will, in the end make a change happen.
Nectar stock over 70 vegan wines across a spectrum of flavour and countries of origin. These are all clearly marked on the website with the vegan symbol, as are vegetarian and organic wines.
From luscious reds to crisp fruity whites there is an option for every list.