Hey there, my name is Dawn, and I love wine. For my “quarantine project” I decided to become WSET level 2 certified in wine. WSET is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust whose qualifications are globally recognized as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge. So, in other words, I am now a certified wine snob! Woo-hoo!
When I was in college my friends and I would take the bag out of a box of wine, shove it in a backpack then take turns squirting it into each other’s mouths throughout the night as we visited frat parties. We didn’t swirl the wine in a glass or take time to ponder the various aromas. We didn't wonder about the terroir or discuss whether the tannins were silky or chalky, we just drank.
After college, as I began the process of becoming an adult, I began to wonder what all of the wine snobs were talking about. What do they mean, the wine smells like freshly mown grass?! IS there freshly mown grass IN the wine?!
I started by taking a few basic classes at the local Total Wine with my husband. We learned how wine was made, about the different types of wine and the wine regions around the world. We learned the proper way to taste wine, which is when I realized that drinking wine is an exercise in mindfulness. I’ve never been good at meditation. After 3 minutes, I open my eyes to check the clock, thinking it’s surely been at least an hour. But drink wine? That, I can do! Tasting wine mindfully brings you to the here and now and forces you to tune in to your senses.
At some point during this time, after watching the documentary Earthlings, I became vegan and for a long time assumed all wine is vegan but sadly learned that many wines are made using animal based fining agents like gelatin, egg whites, casein, or isinglass (fish bladder). Fining removes haziness and off-odors from wines and gives the wine a bright appearance. This was disappointing news. Now what? I’ll have to go back to meditation? Fortunately, no! Winemakers can also use vegetable proteins, PVPP, charcoal, or bentonite to fine their wines. And some winemakers skip fining all together. The trick is figuring out which wine is which. And this is how my search for the best vegan-friendly wines began.
This is not a search that has an end point. There will always be another bottle of wine and every bottle of wine tells a story. Sometimes the story is not very interesting, “Once upon a time there was a grape, and it became wine…”, but sometimes it can be magical. You’ll have to open the bottle to find out. And, I am certified to tell you that some of these bottles may even tell a story involving a whiff of freshly mown grass. Cheers!
Be sure to follow @vegan.uncorked on Instagram for the latest in vegan wine from a local wine and spirit professional.