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Wine expert goes veggie in his hunt for the perfect tipple

Fri 21 Aug 2009 17:36


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It’s strange to think of a wine being unsuitable for vegetarians – after all, it’s only fermented grape juice!

But the reality is that while the actual stuff in the bottle definitely doesn’t come from animals, there are some traditional techniques that are part of the wine-making process that us animal derived products – particularly to ‘fine’ or clarify it.

Two common fining ingredients are isinglass, which is derived from fish, and gelatin, which can be derived from animal bones.

But vegetarians don’t need to worry – there are a range of suitable wines out there which are fined with non-animal products.

There are also lots of organic wines, which come from vineyards where the grapes are grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilisers.

Instead of using synthetic chemical sprays to deal with problems like greenfly or mildew, permitted organic treatments and fertilisers, which are better for the environment, can be used.

Here are wine expert Tom Cannavan’s top organic or vegetarian picks.

1. Via Cara, Pinot Grigio Cuvée Brut NV, priced at £3.99 from Aldi

Pinot Grigio is as popular as ever, and this vegetarian-friendly sparkling version is offered at a rock bottom price making it perfect for parties and picnics - if we have any more sunshine to come this summer!

This Italian wine is also a nice one to tuck away if you have any big festive celebrations planned for later in the year.

This wine goes very well with smoked or poached salmon and with risotto, and has tastes of red apples, toffee and lemons.

2. Fox Gordon, Fiano 2008, priced at £9.99 from Oddbins

Fiano is a grape from southern Italy that is one of a small group of indigenous white grapes from the south that make really appealing, aromatic and honey-scented wines.  Australia is planting more and more of these grapes, such as this vegetarian example from vineyards near Adelaide.

This wine tastes of honey, pine nuts, guavas and lychees, and is suited to most fish and white meat dishes, smoked foods or pastas and risottos.

3. Botteghino, Chianti 2007, priced at £7.99 from Marks & Spencer

Chianti in Tuscany, in the centre of Italy, is famous for wines like this one made from the Sangiovese grape. From vineyards close to Siena, the grapes for this wine are certified organic, from vineyards using no synthetic chemicals.  This one is also suitable for vegetarians.

With flavours of cherry, black olives and cloves, this wine goes really well with tomato-based dishes, roast chicken and grilled lamb.

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