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Blog, Food Pairings, Wines31 October 2018

Vegan Wines Explained

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Blog, Food Pairings, Wines31 October 2018

Vegan Wines Explained

It wasn’t so long ago that veganism was sceptically seen as a small contingent of defiant earth warriors out to save the planet by avoiding animal-made products and foods. But what started as a fringe movement has today become mainstream and everyone is taking note.

World Vegan Day started in 1994, and now 24 years later, it is no longer an annual nod to a tireless campaign but a normal, daily, subconscious movement to help the welfare and health of animals, and well, humans too.

According to a survey carried out by the Vegan Society last year;

  • More than half of UK adults (56%) are now adopting vegan buying behaviours and Britain is more vegan-friendly than ever before.
  • Half of those surveyed said they know someone who is vegan and over a fifth said they would consider becoming vegan themselves.
  • One in five cut down on the amount of meat they buy and the same number check if their toiletries are tested on animals.
  • Nearly one in eight now choose meat or dairy free options from the menu when eating out.

Restaurateurs, ignore it at your peril…

Is Veganuary the New Dryanuary?

Looking back to the start of this year it feels like Veganuary was even bigger than Dryanuary. Something of a relief for those of us in the drinks trade, but also a serious indication of the power of the vegan movement.

So what does this mean for wine? And how should it influence your wine offering as a pub, bar or restaurant?

Firstly we need to really understand what vegan wine is.

To know whether a wine is vegetarian or vegan, you need to know how a wine is clarified (or fined) to remove the solid particles that would otherwise make it cloudy. The substances used for this process can be derived from many sources, some of which come from fish and animals, some from dairy products and some from clay or synthetic substances. Certain producers do not fine their wines at all while some choose just to filter.

Though the traditional fining agent of bull’s blood was banned by the EU after the BSE crisis, a number of animal-derived products are still permitted for the production of wine sold in Europe. Among the most prevalent are isinglass (fish swim bladders), gelatine, casein (milk protein), and albumen (egg whites). If a wine is fined with bentonite (a clay) or activated charcoal, the wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If a wine is fined with casein or albumen it is suitable for vegetarians but not for vegans.

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Food Pairings, Wines18 January 2018

Chocolate & Wine

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Food Pairings, Wines18 January 2018

Chocolate & Wine

Many purists will flatly deny that there is an acceptable match for wine and chocolate. The intense sweetness of chocolate and its ability to decimate the taste buds make matching with a wine a sticky proposition, and the sweeter the chocolate, the harder this becomes. Although we have long been tricked into believing this is true, and with most menus featuring chocolate desserts, here are some recommendations that are capable of standing up to those powerful flavours:

Sweet Sparkling Wines

Asti Spumante, Italy or Rumours Moscato, Australia

Wines made from the Muscat/Moscato grape (e.g. Asti), tend to have the required aromatic intensity and sweetness to pair with chocolate desserts.

Fortified Wines

Elysium Black Muscat, California or Campbell’s Ruthglen Muscat, Australia.

These wines have the concentration, weight and sweetness to deal with all things chocolate.

Sweet Sherries

Triana Pedro Ximenez, Javier Hidalgo, Spain.

This treacle style sherry works wonders with chocolate, but don’t expect to be able to move from your table for a while after this taste bud explosion.

New World Dry Red Wines

Ironstone Old Vine Zinfandel, California or Esk Valley Merlot-Cabernet-Malbec, New Zealand.

When using chocolate in all things savoury the choice can be widened to powerful, dry red wines, such as a Zinfandel or a Merlot blend. A certain touch of bitterness, earthy qualities and the roasted notes of dry reds from a warm-climate, that pack a punch, match the characteristics of the chocolate itself.

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Food Pairings, Wines28 December 2017

Wine & Cheese

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Food Pairings, Wines28 December 2017

Wine & Cheese

Cheese and wine are a match made in heaven, if you get them right! We have a bit of a port & Stilton hangover in the UK and assume we should drink a big red wine with cheese but in fact, in many cases, white wine would work better, especially for more delicate or complex cheeses.

Blue, stinky, soft, hard, creamy, salty, fresh, aged – the styles go on and on! And each needs style needs it own wine pairing to really get the best from the combo.

When we food and wine match, our aim is to balance and complement both parts. Cheese is basically fat and acidity so we need something that will cut through the fat and balance the acidity; white wines will usually do this better than reds. Of course there are exceptions, where big strong flavours need to pair with the same, and don’t forget personal preference, so here’s a few ideas of what will work well together:

Ricotta (and other light, fresh cheeses)

Fresh cheeses are light and delicate so look for the same in your wine pairing. Miopasso Pinot Grigio or Divici Prosecco Spumante, both from Italy (albeit different ends of the country) would be an ideal match. Light in body with a fresh acidity to cleanse the pallet.

Goats’ Cheese

The Loire Valley in France is famed for its Chevre cheese made from Goat’s milk. It’s also highly respected for Sauvignon Blanc – a great example of this region’s elegant take on this grape variety is Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc from Marcel Martin.

Manchego

Here again there’s an affinity because they are made in the same place. If it grows with it, it goes with it! Floral, aromatic and complex Mas Buscados Macabeo, Spain pairs well with the oily, fruity Manchego Spanish Ewe’s cheese.

Epoisses (or other stinky/runny cheese)

The ultimate food and wine pairing would be Epoisses with Meursault 1er Cru, Château de Blagny, Louis Latour – both from Burgundy. Funnily enough the two are towns not that far away from each other, so it’s no surprise that the rich, heady, toasty wine is an ideal companion to this smelly, ripe, unctuous cheese.

Brie & Camembert

A Chablis would work well but the rustic twang of the cheese lends itself to a light, savoury red such as Pinot Noir, Hahn Winery, USA.

Cheddar (the stronger the better)

If it’s red you’re after, the True Zin Zinfandel  from Italy is a must. It’s dry, yet juicy style and smoky undertones really bring out the richness of the cheese.

Gorgonzola (and other creamy blues)

Botrytis white. We always talk about complementing with food and wine but here’s an example of where the opposite applies. The sweet Botrytis Semillon Vat 5 De Bortoli, Australia and salty cheese counteract each other, creating a dance of flavour for the palate.

 

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