Here’s a little something you may or may not have known: Not all wines are vegan or even vegan-friendly. True story!
And as we are pretty much in the thick of the festive season, we thought we’d quickly cover which wines you can safely swill, knowing there’s been no animal cruelty involved.
What’s the difference? We’re so glad you asked. It’s in the type of fining agent used, which is added to either soften or reduce the wine’s astringency and/or bitterness; remove proteins capable of causing a haze or cloudy wine; or to reduce colour.
Traditionally the most commonly used fining agents are non-vegan; casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). They are not additives to the wine, as they are precipitated out along with the haze molecules. There are some vegan fining agents however that can be used in winemaking such as Bentonite (a clay) and Carbon (charcoal).
HOT TIP: Always read the label before you buy. If it contains anything other than Bentonite or Carbon, proceed with caution. Mostly though, vegan-friendly wines will be labelled that way – either vegan, vegan-friendly or certified vegan, so it’s not really a minefield that you need to navigate too delicately.
But back to the drinking …
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an authentic glass of French bubbles and thank the vegan Goddesses at PIPER HEIDSIECK HQ for keeping it vegan since 1777, when the Champagne House first open its doors. Since then, icons including Marie Antoinette and Marilyn Monroe have fallen at the feet of this dazzling drop. Who are we to argue?
Our pick? Rose Sauvage, a 50-55% Pinot Noir with an audacious stance, not dissimilar to the women who have loved this Champagne house since its inception.
Our next fave drop(s) is the selection of reds from multi-award-winning wine maker Sarah Marquis, owner of MOLLYDOOKER WINES in the premier wine region McLaren Vale in South Australia.
Sarah has recently been named Owner/Operator of the year in the 2018 Australian Women in Wine Awards, which is a huge achievement in a very male dominated industry.
“Making our wines vegan is very important to me. What we do in this world has a positive impact on people, animals and the environment, to enrich rather than detract from our world. Our red wines have always been vegan, although we have only just begun announcing it on our 2017 Vintage labels.
“While we currently use skim milk in our white wines to reduce phenolic compounds associated with bitterness and browning – it has a very gentle effect on the flavours on the wine, taking out the ‘hard edges’ on the palate- with the increased awareness and pursuit of looking after our environment, this year we will be trialling other alternatives.”
Our pick? Miss Molly Sparkling Shiraz
If ever there were a time for a sparkling red, it’s the Pointy End of the Year! This fine drop is brimming with vivid maraschino cherry and plum jam that progress into layers of milk chocolate and mocha. Toffee and cinnamon notes intermix throughout the flavour spectrum as the bubbles add an undeniable vibrancy. We can’t think of a better way to say, “Merry Christmas!”
Next, let’s look at HEAD WINES. These vegan wine gurus have been around since 2006, so it’s safe to say they know their stuff.
All grapes are sourced from vineyards that employ sustainable farming methods, using organic principles where possible. Yields are low and controlled and grapes are hand-picked. The ferments use indigenous yeasts with some retention of stems. Minimal sulphur is used during the whole wine-making process and bottling is without fining or filtration.
Our pick? 2015 Head Rose Grenache Barossa Valley
It is after all, the Summer of Rose, right? We love the pale gold hue with a touch of pink copper. At first, you’ll smell pink grapefruit, raspberries and strawberries and once you sip, you’ll enjoy notes of delicate citrus, strawberry and a dry mineral finish.
Now over to the fab folk at 6Ft6 WINES! A second-generation wine making family, these guys are passionate about creating the perfect vegan drop. Winemaker, John Durham has over 40 years winemaking experience and he leads the team to produce cool climate wines that are enjoyed in Australia and around the world.
6Ft6 was formerly known as ‘Six Foot Six’ and it first launched in 2003, with a small, but delicious range of wine, specialising in reds, mainly Pinot Noir and Shiraz. In 2015, 6Ft6 expanded to include Prosecco, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé to its range.
Our pick? Where to begin? Let’s just say the Prosecco kept us very merry last weekend and the rose is going down a treat this week. Both the perfect festive drops!
TEMPLE BRUER WINES has a mantra that reads: ‘good for you and the earth you’re standing on’. Really, how can you resist? We certainly couldn’t and have been known to pick up a dozen or so bottles of this 100 percent organic, preservative-free, carbon neutral and vegan friendly wine from our local BWS on many an occasion.
Our pick? The perfect partner for your vegan Chrissy roast is their Shiraz, which has hints of vanilla, pepper and plum, with a whiff of boysenberry ice cream.
Images courtesy of Champagne Chick, Piper-Heidsieck Instagram, Mollydooker Wines, Head Wines, 6Ft6 Wines and Temple Bruer Wines.