The common reaction to categorizing some wines as vegan is usually: aren’t all wines vegan? But at a recent dinner at Planta, we discovered that not all wines are actually suited towards those following plant-based lifestyles.
The hosts, John Szabo of WineAlign and Jennifer Huether, both Master Sommeliers, explained that the fining process of wine which helps turn a cloudy liquid clear and typically involves an animal protein such as gelatin or egg whites. The elements of wine that cause haziness will bind with these animal proteins, allowing them to be filtered out.
Even though no element of animal product remain in the wine that’s bottled and served, it’s still not considered acceptable to those following a vegan lifestyle. But several wineries are now using plant-based fining agents, such as clay, to clarify wine. The Jackson Family Wine portfolio is one of many following suit and we enjoyed a vegan dinner from Planta’s executive chef David Lee paired with wines selected by Szabo and Huether.
The highlight from our starters was a lovely plate of vegan cheese-like cashew butter and focaccia with pickles made from cucamelon: adorable grape-sized cucumbers with a skin that looked like mini watermelons. It was paired with a dry and bright 2017 sauvignon blanc from Murphy-Goode.
But the best pairing of the evening was with the raw beet agnolotti. Instead of traditional pasta, chef Lee halved a thinly sliced round of beet and placed a flavourful puree of rapini, pine nut, lemon and pea shoots inside. The dish made a great pairing with the earthy qualities of the 2016 Carmel Road Pinot Noir, and gave proof to the fact that the depths of flavour can still be elicited from vegetable-based dishes.