09 May 2019, The Tablet

Red or white? Or maybe green?

From the vineyard

Red or white? Or maybe green?

Monday marks the beginning of National Vegetarian Week, promoting the benefits and pleasures of a meat-free diet. What could be more “vegetarian” than the fermented juice of the grape? This was my own question when I was asked to provide vegan wine for a recent dinner.

Organic wine, with reduced sulphites and vines free of insecticides, I was familiar with, but vegetarian and vegan wine sounded like something out of Star Wars. In my ignorance, I was unaware that the making of most wine involves animal-derived products.

Essentially, of course, wine is grape juice in which yeasts, either natural or cultured, have converted the grape-juice sugars into alcohol. But all young wine is naturally hazy, due to its containing proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics – all perfectly natural and in no way harmful – that not only cause clouding but affect flavour, texture and colour.

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