If you are foraging for vegan-friendly wines this Veganuary, be sure to explore the full range of wines from Lourensford Estate in Somerset West.
Wine is made from grapes so all wines must be vegan friendly, right? Not necessarily. Winemakers traditionally use animal-sourced by-products to clarify wines in a process called “fining” to remove unwanted elements in the wine which make it appear hazy or cloudy. These unwanted elements chemically bind with the fining agents to settle at the bottom of the tank or barrel and are then removed to leave a bright, clear wine.
Traditional animal-sourced fining agents include casein (the protein in milk), albumin in egg whites, gelatin from animal bones or cartilage, and isinglass (the collagen protein in fish bladders). However, increasingly winemakers from estates such as Lourensford are using vegan-friendly alternatives.
At the forefront of it all is Cellarmaster Hannes Nel who along with his innovative winemaking team, prides himself on creating fresh-from-nature wines that celebrate the purest form of the grape with minimal intervention.
“We use mineral and plant derived products during the winemaking process,” says Nel. “These ingredients, sourced from reputable and accredited manufacturers in the world, are great alternatives and we are able to achieve a more eco-concious end result in the bottle without sacrificing any quality or flavour.”
“Lourensford’s vegan-friendly wines are testimony to an estate with nature and environmental sustainability at the core of what they do,” adds Nel.
Because no animal by-products are used as fining agents, Lourensford can confidently state that the entire range, from the flagship Chrysalis to the awarded Limited Release and The Dome ranges as well as the River Garden Classique and River Garden Flower Collection, is vegan-friendly. “It is not difficult to make a vegan-friendly wine, it just comes down to the choice of finging agent during the winemaking process,” says Nel.
When it comes to a vegan-friendly perfect pairing, Nel suggests one of his favourite Jamie Oliver recipes: a roast brinjal stew and wholewheat couscous.
“I love this southern Italian dish that the Sicilians are famous for,” says Nel. “It is healthy, nutritious and fast to make. You can enjoy it either for lunch or dinner and it pairs really well with our Lourensford Dome Chardonnay or the Lourensford Dome Pinot noir.”
- 1 large brinjal
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 large clove of garlic
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon baby capers
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 8 green olives (pitted)
- 150g wholewheat couscous
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Trim and cut the brinjal into large chunks. Using a large pan heat olive oil over meduim heat, add the brinjal, dried oregano and little sea salt. Toss is all together to coat the brinjal chunks.
- Turn the heat up to high and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then.
- Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Pick and chop the parsley leaves and finely chop the stalks. Roughly trim and chop the tomatoes.
- Once the brinjal is golden all over add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks. Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes. If the brinjal gets too dry, add a little more olive oil to the pan.
- Drain and add the capers, destone and add the olives, then drizzle over the vinegar.
- When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 – 20 minutes or until the brinjal is tender.
- Put the couscous into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and cover with boiling water, then pop a plate on top and leave to fluff up.
- Lightly toast the almond flakes in a dry pan over a medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes, or until golden.
- Using a fork, fluff up the couscous and stir through half the chopped parsley.
- Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve the stew hot with the couscous and sprinkle with the almond flakes and remaining fresh parsley to garnish.