Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan and Natural Wines & Wine Ingredients

This past week I was interested to see a Wines & Vines article (thanks Paul Franson) about vegan wines, albeit focused on one winery's new line of vegan wines. For about a year now I've been discussing and fielding questions (and phone calls) about our estate wines, which are all vegan. Now we're starting to see this topic in the press.

Another area of growth in the business: natural wines. It seems wine retailers all over are now touting and carrying natural wines. In a purist sense, natural wines have nothing added to them (even sulfur) and are commonly made from organic grapes. Of course, there are no guidelines or rules yet in the U.S. for this. As it happens, we at Foursight follow the natural winemaking methods to a rational degree (we consider things like sulfur a necessity, as our wines, particularly our Pinot Noirs, are built to last).

We don't label our wines vegan (the TTB won't allow it, apparently) or natural, even though we don't use products derived from animals nor do we manipulate the wines like a mad scientist in the back room. They're just damn good wines that happen to be both vegan and natural because we don't add crap to them. Period. Perhaps I should just put that on the back label: "This wine was made under our philosophy of not adding a bunch of junk to a perfectly sound wine made by nature." Nature in this instance being a bunch of grapes, wild yeast and wild ML cultures and a sprinkling of sulfur (hey - a natural product too).

All of the increased interest in vegan/natural/organic/sustainable wines proves that consumers are finally becoming interested in what goes into their wines, just like their food. It's not the fault of wine consumers: most tell me they always assumed wines were just grapes and just now are beginning to understand that's not necessarily the case. Wineries have definitely helped that perception along throughout the years.

Want an interesting read on your Monday? Take a look at some of the wine ingredients regulated by the TTB. A big asterisk is needed here, though: there's stuff in here that I've never heard of a winery using.

I'm not an arrogant person, but I do have to toot our own horn for a second. Between the interest in lower alcohol wines, an increased knowledge of wine ingredients and a shift toward smaller, more eclectic wines and wineries, I believe that brands like ours are exactly in the cross hairs of where we need to be for a new era of wine consumption. In fact, I have my own label for what we produce at Foursight: honest wines.

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