It is World Vegan Month, which is an opportunity for plant-based eaters around the globe to celebrate their lifestyle.
The vegan lifestyle revolves around an individual’s diet, which not only eschews meat but also fish, dairy, eggs, and honey in addition to products such as leather or fur.
World Vegan Month was established in 1994 as a way to promote this way of life. For one, its followers believe, eating vegan helps reduce the strain put on the planet. In addition to being healthier, many doctors recommend a vegan diet, particularly for those who are trying to reduce the incidence or recover from diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses.
The Vegan Society lists itself as the world’s oldest vegan charity, which started in November 1944 when its founding members coined the word “vegan,” according to its website. The first World Vegan Day was created to mark the 50th anniversary of the society, held on Nov. 1, 1994. This was later expanded to become World Vegan Week and now World Vegan Month.
With all that in mind, here are a few wines suggested by Fine Wines & Good Spirits retail specialists that pair well with vegan foods.
Nathan Snelbaker, FWS, CSW, Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection #2211, Hummelstown
Most people would assume all wines are vegan, but the distinction comes down to two things. Composite cork is sometimes made with animal product and the process of fining is often achieved using egg whites or casein, a protein found in dairy products. There are many websites you can use to determine which wineries are vegan-friendly, so a quick online search may help you out.
Here are five products available now that are identified as vegan by the winery.
Cune Rioja Gran Reserva 2016, Chairman’s Selection® (#79565, $19.99, quoted at $42), from the acclaimed Rioja region of Spain, is one of the best values we offer. Where else can you get a wine that has been aged by the winery for five years for less than $30? Gran Reserva is the highest aging classification for red Rioja, requiring at least two years in oak. This one is drinking well now but will continue to evolve over the next five years.
Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlborough, New Zealand (#9051, $21.99) comes to us from producer Kim Crawford, an undisputed titan among New Zealand winemakers. After selling his namesake brand, he and his wife started this new project, making high-quality organic wines. Like many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, this has bold tropical notes like pineapple paired with delicate floral aromatics.
Catena Classic Malbec 201 from Mendoza, Argentina (#87685, $21.99) is new to the list of vegan wines, as of the 2019 harvest. This wine is like blueberry pie in a bottle. Intense notes of blueberry compote and flaky pastry are joined by subtle baking spice and a supremely smooth mouthfeel. Catena is one of the largest producers in Argentina and they have long been innovators and leaders in this country’s winemaking history. Their shift to vegan practices is good news for those looking for an end to the use of animal byproducts in winemaking.
H3 Merlot from Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA (#6592, $15.99) has long been one of my personal favorites and I’m glad I can share this with my vegan clientele. Washington state wines benefit from a longer period of sunlight and a more dramatic shift in day and night temperatures than many other growing regions, giving their reds more fruit and acidity. This Merlot features lovely blackberry and plum notes and a distinctive note of dark cocoa on the finish.
The Bodegas Ego Infinito 2017 from Jumilla, Spain, and a Chairman’s Selection® (#79422, $16.99, quoted at $75) wine has been one of our absolute best-sellers over the years, with many customers purchasing full cases upon release. I was glad to see that Bodegas Ego was on the list of fully vegan wineries. This is a big, bold blend of Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon with flavors of dark fruit and spice, which pair beautifully with the juicy acid and plush mouthfeel.
Max Gottesfeld, FWS, CSW, Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection #5154, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
Ethic Drinks Biodiversite Cabernet Franc Pays d’Oc 2021 (#86169, $11.99) from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France is an easygoing red that is also a great deal. The bright and ripe aromas of plum and cassis mix with hints of cedar and bell pepper to create an easy everyday red that anyone can enjoy.
Di Giovanna Bianco Camurria Orange Terre Siciliane 2021 (#88320, $21.99) from Sicily has a little bit of everything in it from bright and fruity to spicy and savory. It is also a skin contact white wine (AKA an “orange” wine), made from the grillo grape, and is bottled unfined/unfiltered. This is a great wine for the holidays if you’re looking for something a little more exciting or unique.
Pratsch Grüner Veltliner 2021 from the Niederosterreich region of Austria (#86901, $14.99) is packaged in a liter-sized bottle, so right there you get more for your money, on top of it being a great mineral-driven, vegan wine. It is all crisp acidity, with faint flowers and spice on the midpalate and finish.
Benjamin Taillandier Laguzelle Minervois 2020 (#86217, $20.99) hails from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region and is a great red wine for the holidays. This blend of three grapes – Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan – is aged in stainless steel rather than oak which showcases bright berry fruit aromas that are followed up by crisp acidity and mild tannins. It’s one of those wines you wished you’d bought more of, so get this while you can.
This is part of a ongoing themed series with suggested wines from PLCB retail specialists. Here are a few that ran previously: