Living an ethical, plant-based, vegan life – though rewarding – can be tricky. And never trickier than at 5pm on a Friday when reaching for a well-earned glass of wine. Because it’s a sad and sorry fact that not all wines are vegan. We know.
But why is this? Surely grapes + sugar = vegan-friendly? Well, apparently it’s just not as simple as that. We asked Isabelle Legeron, a Master of Wine and founder of
RAW WINE to explain…
"Some winemakers use what are called 'processing aids’ to ‘fine’ their wines in order to remove residual cloudiness. The aids can be made from clay or pea protein but can also be derived from egg, milk and even fish. This is why some wines are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans."
Okay, so how can we tell if a wine
"Unfortunately you can’t always tell from the label if a wine is vegan-friendly. I would say most artisanally made, low-intervention wines are suitable, but the best way to be sure is to buy wine from an independent wine store with knowledgeable staff. At RAW WINE we require full disclosure from producers and we share this information with visitors."
We’d also add that a spot of online shopping can make your vegan wine hunting a tad easier too, with outlets like Ocado and Waitrose enabling you to search specifically for vegan wines. In the meantime, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite vegan-friendly wines so you can make a toast to wine time, without the worry.
This M&S prosecco is a premium example of the lively, crisp Italian sparkling wine we all know and refuse to stop loving. With the usual characteristics of lemon, pear and apple flavours, there’s also a nice floral hint to this number, so I think we can all agree it’s pretty much #plantbased, no?
This wine is from the northeast Veneto region’s beautiful Valdobbiadene hills, as prosecco should be. They say it’s ideal as an aperitif but to be honest, we like drinking this stuff all night long. Serve perfectly chilled with canapés, seafood and creamy cheese (although vegans will opt out of the latter two). Try it with pastry-based canapés instead (hello homemade vol-au-vents – the green Jus Roll is vegan, don’t you know) or mini bruschetta. Marks & Spencer Prosecco (Non-Vintage), 11%, £10, available at Marks & Spencer
Waitrose has a new range of accessible own-label wines from classic regions, which they’re calling Blueprint Wines (spot the pretty blue and white labels), and this is the malbec. It’s from Mendoza in Argentina – the world’s most famous malbec region – and is absolutely delicious. We loved the sheer juiciness of it, with masses of rich red berry flavours and maybe a bit of plum. As with most malbecs, this wine’s perfect pairing is a big grilled steak, but vegans and veggies should try it with any barbecued or chargrilled food.
Blueprint Malbec 2017 Mendoza, 12.5%, £7.99, available at
We’re actually loath to tell you about this wine in case you buy it all, but it’s our job to so, fine; we will. An organic viognier from a fully organic vineyard near the Murray River in south Australia, the makers are dedicated to sustainability and making their wines in harmony with the environment and community. The care and attention shows: This viognier is one of the most remarkable we’ve tasted, genuinely bursting with honeyed sunshine and with floral nectar flavours galore. It’s a fair old percentage at 14.5% so go steady as we loved this so much it hurt (our heads!). Drink now while it’s young. Great with Asian flavours.
Organic Viognier 2016, 14.5%, £11.99, available at
This lovely red won gold in the International Wine Challenge 2016 so you know it means business. These shiraz grapes are grown on ancient, gnarly vines that need little intervention as they are so well established – the soil is some of the oldest on the planet – and are then hand-crushed, fermented and finished in old French oak barrels. This is a serious wine, with big spicy pepper notes, all the brambles and the characteristic shiraz dark chocolate finish. Drink in front of a roaring fire, or with something hearty like a mushroom risotto.
Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, Australia 2014, 14.5%, £10.95, available at
Anyone who’s holidayed in Portugal will be familiar with their jazzy vinho verde aka ‘green wine’ – light, zesty little summer numbers that are so youthful they almost fizz in the mouth, despite being strictly ‘still’ wines. Vinho verde doesn’t have to be green though, and this exceptionally dry, aromatic Portuguese pink is from the same protected DOC region and made in the same style, so there are herbal, mineral and seaside notes galore, as you’d hope. This light rosé is made for seafood (sorry vegans) and salad, and we can’t think of a better pairing than a perfectly crisp green salad with a lemony dressing.
Vinho Verde Rosé, Portugal, 2015, 12.5%, £10, available at
In case you hadn’t noticed, 2017 was the year that people sat up and took notice of crémant, and we are 100% here for that. Crémant refers to a group of French sparkling wines that are made in the same traditional method as champagne – meaning far more bubbles. Many crémant wines use the same grapes as champagne too, like this Aldi Exquisite Crémant, which uses chardonnay grapes. The taste is scarily close to champagne, with plenty of that signature brioche flavour and in this case, some nice green apples and citrus. We can’t emphasise how much of a bargain this wine is, particularly next to most proseccos of a similar price; crack it out for a special occasion.
Exquisite Crémant du Jura, 2015, 12%, £7.99, available at
The vegan wine message is spreading far and wide, and the fact you can even pick up a vegan-friendly vino from your local corner shop is a sign that things are really coming on. Most likely, you’ll find this super approachable rioja from the nice i heart wines people, and on drinking you’ll discover it to be a smoothly balanced wine with loads of red berries and a nice vanilla note (that’ll be the oak ageing). It’s from one of the most prestigious rioja wineries, so do it justice by pairing with authentic Spanish tapas – anything spicy and fried works well. Pass the patatas bravas.
Berceo Rioja, NV, 13.5%, RRP £8, available at McColl’s, Nisa and Bargain Booze
RAW WINE's fair is held on 11th-12th March 2018 in London