Sunday, 19 July 2015

Vegan French Surprises #2

Those of you who have read a few of our posts may well have picked up on the fact that were are partial to a spot of wine here and there.  A trip to France was clearly a great opportunity to sample from one of the premier wine countries of the world.  In order to try and make the most of this we did a little research beforehand; after all us vegans know the clear marking up on the bottles of vegan wine is still a rare thing and even less likely in France. So we armed ourselves with a printed list from Vintage Roots and a little knowledge in regards to 'Sur Lie' wines.

'Sur Lie' translates as 'on the lees'.  The wine is overwintered on the lees (yeast sediment) before being carefully bottled directly from the tank or barrel without any filtration. The lack of filtration is the important bit for vegan wine as that is usually the point at which a non vegan ingredient can be used to filter or 'clear' the wine.

We are predominantly red wine drinkers but just before we left for Brittany we had enjoyed the odd bit of crisp, cool white here and there. This turn of events was fortuitous as when we first arrived we struggled finding a red wine we were certain was vegan.  In fact, ironically, the only one we found was a Portuguese we recognised from our trips over there!  We could find no reds from our several pages of printed Vintage Roots list and indeed after quite a few minutes of searching our heads started to feel like were were about to encounter an unusual hangover!  Sur Lie and the white wine section came to the rescue, particularly Muscadet which we had never actually tried before.  Muscadet is really the only wine produced in Brittany so in many ways it was good to give this local product a go.  Turns out to be lovely stuff although no doubt a lot better chilled and, as we were wild camping, we didn't turn the fridge on in Miles to conserve the electric.

Our search for the elusive French red wines continued however.  On our way back from a day with the Tour de France, we were driving from inland back to the coast when we happened across a health food store. More about health food stores in Brittany in the next post but not only were we surprised to see one but we were very pleased to see it still open at 6pm.  The surprises continued when we happened upon a corner of the store with an ample range of organic wines. We initially had the same problem on not having any certainty over whether they were suitable for us.  We then hit the jackpot big time when we found a set of wine boxes, all organic and all marked up as vegetarian and vegan (luckily my French is good enough to decipher this)!  I've never even seen suitable wine boxes in the UK and now, after a big battle to find any red wine at all in France, we find a range of about 4 wine boxes in one go. Well of course, two had to be secured to end the red wine drought immediately!  

After this initial big find we then not only discovered there were a lot more health food stores in Brittany than we had imagined but there were also, within them, more chances of finding those elusive vegan red wines than among the rows of offerings in supermarkets.

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