The Vegan Vine Wines sponsor this article, but all opinions are my own.
Last Saturday I was the hostess of an intimate wine tasting at my house. It turned out great! Everyone enjoyed great wine and each other’s company.
I served wine — Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Red table wine — The Vegan Vine Wine sourced from the Clos LaChance Estate Vineyards in San Martin, California. The Vegan Vine wine doesn’t use the common animal ingredients typically used in winemaking such as; gelatin, casein, isinglass, and albumen (egg whites).
Let me tell you about this wine. First, the vineyard is California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance certified. Next, the wine is bottled in Eco-Glass, which means it’s 25% lighter than regular wine bottles. Plus, sponsoring the Vida Vegan Conference in Portland next month. Vegan businesses supporting other vegan business, that’s a lovely thing.
And the taste? I’ll get to the tasting notes in a minute.
An aside about animal-based fertilizer: When reading the promotion material about The Vegan Vine, I couldn’t help but notice that the grapes grow in soil with both mushroom compost and chicken manure from local farms.
Now, I realize this could come across as nitpicky but it still needs to be said: Using chicken manure for fertilizer is far from vegan. Hold on, stay with me. Let’s look at the vegan connection: Chicken manure (an animal byproduct) is only available due to the raising of chickens as food.
Should vegans avoid foods grown with animal fertilizers? In an ideal, vegan world, yes. Sadly, we don’t live in that world yet. It would be nearly impossible to avoid food grown with animal-based fertilizers unless you farmed the food yourself. That said, veganic gardening is a real thing, and it’s something vegans need to talk about and explore.
UPDATE 7/26/11: The Vegan Vine contacted me to let me know that they no longer use chicken manure as fertilizer. Excellent!
For my vegan wine tasting, I started by serving four different styles of dips on warm whole grain toast. Instead of using one of my own recipes, I decided to try some I had not used before. These Five Easy Dips from Kathy over at Healthy. Happy. Life. was just what I was looking for. I chose to make the mushroom, sweet potato, and black olive dip. For the last topping, I decided to make Bruschetta from the tomatoes and herbs from my garden.
For the most part, everyone loved the dips. The sweet potato dip is silky and smooth which was a nice contrast to the rich taste of the black olive dip. It’s just a fact that you can never go wrong with bruschetta, and it was true here too. The sole exception was the mushroom dip. We unanimously agreed that raw mushrooms are terrible in a dip. If I ever tried it again, I’d cook the mushrooms instead of leaving them raw.
The little hors d’oeuvres paired perfectly with the Sauvignon Blanc- which was crisp and light with hints of fruit (think citrus). It’s pleasing on the nose, with notes of wet grass and lemon. I’ve always been a lover of red wines and preferred them over white- until now.
Our second course brought us decadence in a ramekin:
I served individual servings of Post Punk Kitchen’s Mac & Shews topped with croutons from Edward & Sons that I made into breadcrumbs. I’ve never made this before either, but my friend Chubby Vegan told me it was good and I believed him. Glad I did, it turned out delicious. I will say that I prefer my dishes with more spice- I think I’d add more garlic, pepper, and oregano the next time.
Overall, it paired perfectly with the Vegan Vine Red wine- which was full of flavor, almost like a merlot. On the nose, berries- raspberries, cherries. On the palate, fruity with hint of wood. The Central Coast Red is an interesting blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Cinsaut, Carignan, and Mouvedre. I could have easily had this course over and over again.
My final course of the evening was the dessert course- a feast for the eyes:
Chocolate bottom brownies, chocolate topped brownies with coconut, and chocolate covered strawberries- with and without coconut, all graced the table. I paired the chocolate decadence with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was bold. On the nose, dark fruits (think plum, blackberries). On the palate, rich with a dark berry taste and a smooth finish. The chocolate enhanced the flavor of the wine, bringing out subtle spice notes. We were split evenly on which red was our favorite, some preferring the woody fruit taste of the Coastal Red over the rich bold flavor of the Cabernet. One thing we all agreed on, the Vegan Vine wine is fine wine indeed. Or, as one of our attendees put it: “Nice. Quite.”
Finally, one attendee at our tasting was not thrilled that she was not permitted to eat or drink. Which was fine, she just kept us company and added some cuteness to our evening.