Pairing Vegan Red Wines with the Perfect Movie
Wine has been celebrated in Hollywood since the image of Lucille Ball stomping around in a barrel turning grape juice into laughs. But often the ancient process of making wines are no laughing matter.The vast majority of wines are made with animal-derived products out of old traditions that simply are out of date and are unnecessary to producing the same aromas..
With the increasing demand for vegan-friendly options, winemakers are now producing delicious red wines free of animal products. Let’s explore the best vegan winemaking and the key terms to consider when selecting a wine.
Light Bodied Red Wines:
Gamay- flowery aromas, light tannins, and tart flavors of red fruits like cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and red currant. It is primarily grown in Burgundy in the region of Beaujolais. (Recently, Beaujolais was featured in the American TV hit “The Last of Us” and can barely be found on the shelves.
Pinot Noir: with flavors of Cherry, Raspberry, Allspice, Darjeeling Tea, and Vanilla. In the first year since the movie “Sideways,” California and Oregon Pinot Noir production increased 170% in a decade that followed, officially called “The Sideways Effect”
Grenache: Grown in Luberon and bordering on medium-bodied, it produces scents of bananas, burnt notes, cocoa, coffee, blackcurrants, spices, ripe.
Ridley Scotts' “A Good Year” celebrates romance and the art of secretive cellar practices in quite possibly the most beautiful backdrop captured on celluloid in the countryside of Lubero Provence.
Medium-Bodied Red Wines
San Giovese: This Italian Varietal is made exclusively in Italy,with two distinctions. Chianti Classico must be made from exclusively red grapes,, and 70% of those red grapes must be be from the San Giovese. Wines marked “Chianti” are a red blend that allows for 10% white wine grapes. And in this list, Chianti has the most infamous Hollywood moment being served with Fava Beans in “Silence of The Lambs”
Merlot: Flavor profiles of Black Cherry, Raspberry, and Plum. The Merlot grape is grown in France in St. Émilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac. The “Sideways Effect” quite literally hurt the Merlot market from a single monologue when Paul Giamatti declares he will get up and leave because he is “Not Drinking Merlot” with a few expletives thrown in. And as absurd as this sounds, the Merlot industry took a significant downturn for over a decade. Which is hardly fair, considering its beautiful consistency and rounded flavor.
Full Bodied Red Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon- This much beloved and unwaveringly admired varietal has blackcurrant, black cherry, cassis, and plum, with hints of eucalyptus, mint, and black pepper.
Bottle Shock is a true story of a small California winery that challenges the French Wine Masters in a blind tasting back in the 70’s.. The late Alan Rickman turns in a masterful performance discovering the joys of California Wine.
The Real-Life Movement to change the Winemaking Process
Winemaking has been a traditional process for centuries. Still, with advancements in technology, winemakers can now produce high-quality wines without using animal-derived fining agents.
Traditionally, fining agents such as casein (a milk protein), egg whites, gelatin, isinglass (made from fish bladders), and albumin (found in egg whites) were used to clarify and refine the wine.
Still, these days, winemakers are using alternative methods such as bentonite, a type of clay, or other plant-based fining agents without the need for animal byproducts which begs the question, “If it doesn’t affect the flavor and it’s healthier, why is the wine industry still making non-vegan wines with animal additives?
Key Terms to Look Out For
When searching for vegan red wine, be aware of terms like “unfined” or “plant-based,” which indicate that the wine has not been made using animal-derived products. However, be warry that certifications such as USDA organic, which indicates that the wine has been made using Organic grapes and health conscious labels like no added sulfites and gluten-free does NOT mean the wine is vegan.