Winebits 480: Vegan wine, corks, oak

vegan wineThis week’s wine news: Once more into the vegan wine breach, plus cork propaganda and the truth about oak

No, no, no: Periodically, a general interest magazine or website will warn vegans not to drink wine because wine can be fined, a form of filtering, that uses egg whites. When this happens, the Wine Curmudgeon must step into the breach and remind vegans that it’s rare to find egg whites used in the wine that most of us drink. It’s too expensive and too time consuming, so most wine is filtered through a form of gravel, called perlite, or clay, called bentonite, or pads made with material like cellulose. In this, most of the wine we drink is vegan – which, of course, is no guarantee that it will be worth drinking.

Tradition! The Wine Curmudgeon’s long-time aversion to corks – you try opening a dozen bottles of wine closed with cork for a party or event, and tell me how you feel – makes me question almost every bit of cork news I see. Hence, this bit about how wonderful cork is because about half of the wine found in a 170-year-old shipwreck was closed with cork and still drinkable. Which is wonderful news for those of us who drink 170-year-old wine found in shipwrecks. However, for the other 99 percent of us, screwcaps do the job and they don’t require a special tool.

Well said: Periodically, when the WC despairs for the future of wine, I read something like this, from a representative of one of the best producers in France’s Burgundy: “We are just custodians of the soil, and we will look after it until we die. It will still be there when we are gone and we need to be humble about it and not take it for granted.” How can one argue with that? Marco Caschera, the commercial director for Vincent Girardin, also caught my attention with this: “Oak is only good for making tables and chairs. If you taste oak it’s the winemaker’s fault. Even if the wine has been aged in barrel you should only be able to taste the fruit. … All work should be done in the vineyard and not in the winery. It should just be about the soil.”