Many people opt for a dry January to balance the seasonal excess. But how about trying one of the many wines now available for vegans instead?
Waitrose Côtes du Rhône Villages, France 2015 (£6.99) The number of vegans in the UK is now at half a million and counting, with many more – your correspondent included – dabbling with no meat-or-dairy life in a flexitarian way for at least part of the week. For newcomers to this lifestyle it can come as a surprise to learn that you have to be careful with your wine: many producers use animal products, such as milk protein, fish bladder, gelatin and egg whites to take out haze-causing particles. Fortunately, most retailers will be able to tell you which of their bottles avoid these so-called fining agents, and some will go out of their way to ensure they have plenty of vegan wines on their books. Waitrose’s website, for example, lists 275 vegan bottles, this good value, spicy, brambly Rhônered among them.
Nicosia Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy 2015 (£11, Marks & Spencer) There’s a chicken and egg (or, if you prefer, seed and plant) question about the recent growth (up by some 350% according to a recent report by the Vegan Society) of veganism: has the improvement in vegan food brought more people to veganism, or has the prevalence of veganism led to an improvement in vegan food? I’m guessing the latter, but either way the options available ingredients and the fertile ideas of creative chefs – have made vegan food an aesthetic rather than an ascetic choice, with the pleasure only enhanced by original wine matches. My own vegan meals, especially at this time of year, draw deeply on the mushroom as provider of umami savouriness, with the fungus’s flavour and texture well matched by M&S’s sweet-sour-savoury Sicilian red.