When it comes to vegan food, us vegans are pretty switched on and know what is 100% plant-based and what is not. However it’s a completely different story when it comes to drinks, especially those of the alcoholic kind.
We know that many champagnes and wines are made using isinglass, albumin, casein or gelatine, their seals might be made of beeswax whilst some corks may contain milk-based glue and some vineyards utilise horses to work their land (is your head hurting yet?). There is actually quite a lot of vegan booze on the market, but many brands don’t have a vegan logo on their bottles and often, the average wine bar, pub or even wine seller won’t have a clue if what they sell is vegan or not. Who hasn’t been out for a drink frantically checking if what they’re about to drink is vegan on booze website Barnivore ?
I was delighted to be recently invited by eminent champagne and fizzy wine magazine Glass of Bubbly to a vegan champagne and sparkling wine tasting and food pairing at new London venue Champagne Route.
Nestled in the lovely Gauging Square in Wapping, just a stone’s throw away from Tower Hill, Champagne Route was opened by champagne and sparkling wine connoisseurs Paul and Vida. This elegant and modern eatery stock several fantastic fizz brands, including many vegan ones, and whilst not a vegan restaurant, Champagne Route caters for us too, making it quite a special venue to go to with plant-based and omnivore loved ones alike.
At the tasting we tried 8 different bottles:
Champagne Colette Bonnet Naturelle Brut 11/12 and 13/14
Grapes: 47% Pinot Noir and 53% Pinot Blanc for the 11/12 and 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay
Champagne Delavenne Brut Nature Grand Cru
Grapes: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
No. 1 Family Estate Cuvée - New Zealand
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay
Camel Valley Brut 2015 - England
Grapes: 40% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 35% Seyval
Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée 2014 - England
Grapes: 30% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier
Mirgin Rosé Cava - Spain
Grapes: Mataró (Monastrell)
Villa Wolf Riesling Brut 2014 - Germany
Whilst all these bottles were decidedly quaffable, I particularly enjoyed both the Colette Bonnet Naturelle Brut champagnes, which have a low sugar content and plenty of floral and citrus notes, the Champagne Delavenne Brut Nature Grand Cru, a citrusy champagne, peachy on the nose with plenty of mineral notes and, much to my surprise, I rather fell in love with Camel Valley Brut 2015, a fresh and light sparkling wine made in…. Cornwall! The Villa Wolf Riesling Brut 2014 was also of note for me. Whilst slightly sweeter than the others (with the exception of the other English wine on offer, the Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée, a fruity number packed with notes of red berries) it was well balanced and light.
The Champagne Colette Bonnet Naturelle Bruts and Camel Valley worked very well with the delicious, imaginative and light vegan dishes we were served: tofu in teriyaki sauce on greens, quinoa salad, a trio of hummus (beetroot, coriander and natural), endive salad with apple, pomegranate and nuts, a lentil salad perfectly paired and with a zingy mustard sauce and a delicate vegetable curry.
The whole day was quite an eye opener for me. Not only have I learnt quite a bit about champagne and sparkling wine, but I was also amazed at the number of vineyards that have stopped using animal byproducts.
A new world of wine has really opened up to me and I’ve realised that there is far more vegan friendly produce on the market than I previously thought. What’s more I’ve always wanted to go on a wine tasting holiday and the only reason why I haven’t yet is because I wasn’t sure I could keep it vegan. Now I know I can.