What are your options for Dry January and Veganuary?

Are you trying Dry January or Veganuary?

Are you trying Dry January or Veganuary? - Credit: Archant

Dry January and Veganuary are two themes that are becoming an increasingly prominent part of New year resolutions and lifestyle changes.

Due to my day job I would find it very difficult to successfully complete Dry January and personally prefer to drink a small amount of quality wines not a large quantity of average wines. Although less than 10 per cent of the population are committed vegans an increasing number of us are choosing to eat less meat or take up the challenge of a vegan month in January.

It's always been easy to have an alcohol-free month simply by drinking water or soft drinks but there is an increasing demand for no or low alcohol products. Technically, no alcohol 'wines' are not wine which is defined as having a minimum of 5.5 per cent alcohol. Each year I taste my way through a range of low/no alcohol wines hoping that the bland sweet products previously tried will be replaced by an acceptable drink that is reminiscent of the alcoholic version. I have yet to find it…

Producers are using improved technology to make a wine with lower sugar without compromising flavour and winemakers are commenting that wine drinkers are seeking something that is impossible to make.

Low alcohol wines with flavour are available, dessert wine and German wines are often lower in alcohol but at as low an ABV as 7-8 per cent for the latter are often considered out of reach in January. There have been some product innovations in the last few years such as Croft Twist from sherry producer Gonzalez Byass. It is an appealing, gently-sparkling, sherry-based, low alcohol drink with 5 per cent ABV. The Croft sherry base is mixed with a specially created elderflower, lemon and mint cordial - very refreshing and, importantly, not sweet.

Other sectors are much more successful with the production of low alcohol versions of their alcoholic brothers, including beers and gin such as Seedlip which comes in a range of flavours. This makes me think that for the purpose of Dry January it may be better to change to other products that are enjoyable.

The other increasing New Year trend that is more of a long-term lifestyle for many people is Veganuary. What is vegan wine? A simple definition is one made without animal or meat products which you would be forgiven in thinking should cover all wines as by definition wine is made from fermented grapes.

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However, animal-derived products are used to clarify wine after fermentation by helping to filter out unwanted particles that would be detrimental to flavour, texture and appearance. Isinglass from fish bladders, gelatin from animal parts, blood and egg whites are amongst products used making them unsuitable for vegans. As the demand for vegan wines increases winemakers are responding by using plant-based fining agents, bentonite or not filtering at all and letting it settle before bottling.

As a result, I am pleased to say that a high proportion of our range is suitable for vegans and is often replicated throughout the wine shelves in supermarkets and wine shops. They are also highlighted now on the shelf making them easier to find, it's not just the expensive wines either so you can enjoy a vegan wine on any occasion.