It’s Veganuary and so many of us are joining in and eating meat free and animal free products. I am even giving it a go myself although I may not last the whole month. In this post I’ve got a yummy and simple to make recipe and also included wines that would work well with it. Now many of us watch what we eat but don’t think about what we drink. Somewhere many of us will slip up on is with wines. This is something I’ve been looking into myself.
I know we all expect wine to be vegan, it’s made from grapes right! Ha, they fooled us all, apparently not all wines are vegan and I had done a little research into this so you don’t have to.
Why Some Wines Are NOT Vegan
Although grapes are the main ingredient animal-derived products are often used to filter or clarify wines before bottling. Were all used to clear looking wines but many are cloudy due to microscopic particles that are too light to settle. The majority of winemakers choose to filter out any particles to ensure a nice clear wine. The only exception to this are so-called ‘natural wines’. These undergo as little interference as possible during the wine making process.
Which Animal Based Products Are Used to Filter and Clarify Wine?
Products include egg white, milk protein, blood, fish bladder, fish oil, shellfish fibres and gelatin. This means that the wine produced using these is of course not vegan. There are of course vegan wines available.
Non-Animal Products Used to Filter and Clarify Wine
Using non-animal derived products results in a wine that is vegan. Such products include bentonite clay, charcoal, silica gel or plant casein. Vegetarian wines are filtered using egg white or milk protein.
Some vegan wines have the Vegan Society’s stamp of approval but other wines are not obviously vegan, especially those made by small artisan producers. Luckily, online wine retailer Rude Wines have 185 vegan wines for me to choose from. I’ve used the same retailer as mentioned in previous posts as they have a good range – plus they’re competitive with pricing.
Although many of these wines are not labelled as vegan, Rude Wines’ buyer Gerald has scrutinised the production process and has carefully selected these wines to ensure that no animal products have been used in their production.
Foods For Veganuary
With the days getting shorter and winter well and truly on the way, warming dishes like stews and casseroles are a great choice to keep that internal central heating well lit.
I love this recipe for hearty vegan Puy Lentil Bolognese. The lentils help to thicken the rich tomato and Thyme based sauce, and served with pasta this Bolognese will fill you up ready for a cosy evening in hibernation mode.
Try Pairing the Vegan Bolognaise With These:
Great for both vegans and carnivores alike, Les Traverses Rouge 2016 is a ripe blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes that’s 100% vegan. Well priced at £9.99 it’s the sort of wine I’d probably buy a few (what can I say – us Greeks like to buy in bulk). This soft red is medium bodied with a great finish, made in the Rhone valley it’s a good quality option.
If I’m craving white wine then Ventoux Les Traverses Blanc 2015 is another great vegan choice and is currently on offer at £8.49, bargain! It’s a vibrant, punchy Grenache with delicious notes of ripe pears and peaches. It makes a wonderful accompaniment and contrast to both my Chickpeas, Spinach and Tomato dish and Aubergine with Tomatoes and Spices. It also works well with soups and salads.
Vegan Puy Lentil Bolognese
Serves 6-8 depending on portion size
2 tsp olive oil
2 large white onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 stems celery, finely chopped
2 tsp dried Thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried Thyme
1.5 pints vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
500g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
1 X 400g tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pan until medium hot. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots and celery and soften.
Then add the thyme, garlic and tomato purée and turn the heat up. Stir well then add the puy lentils.
Add the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 20-25 mins, until the lentils are tender and the sauce reduced slightly.
Add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer for a further 15 mins.
Serve with pasta, rice or a yummy salad
Alternative serving suggestion: add chilli sauce and tinned kidney beans to make a Chilli and serve with rice.
Did you know that not all wines are vegan?
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Photo credit: Unsplash except first collage – which is by Melanie Edjourian