Veganism is a growing trend around the world, and the wine scene is no exception.
Following the rise of keywords such as natural, organic and biodynamic, the wine scene has also discovered vegan wine -- wine manufactured free of any animal ingredients at any stage of the process.
Though some may ask, “Aren’t all wines vegan?” animal-based products are often involved in the winemaking process, notably the wine clarifying process, called “fining.”
Animal-based fining agents -- which may include milk protein, egg whites, gelatin or fish bladder protein -- are often used to filter out substances that can make the wine look hazy or affect its taste. Fining agents are not categorized as additives, as they do not end up in the final product, but strict vegans choose to avoid them.
The good news is that there are vegan-friendly fining agents, such as clay-based bentonite or activated charcoal.
This month, Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas in southern Seoul introduced a vegan wine selection along with vegan food pairings, under the helm of head sommelier Yoo Seung-min.
“Overseas, it is easy to experience the vegan wine trend with supermarkets having a separate section for vegan wine. The promotion was prepared to satisfy the needs of vegan guests and to offer them diverse options,” Yoo told The Korea Herald in an email interview.
“As of now, (local) consumers are unfamiliar with vegan wine, asking ‘How can there be ‘vegan wine?’” but some become avid fans after understanding the meaning. As more people are attracted to ethical consumption, sustainable growth (of the vegan wine market) is expected,” he said.
Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas presents six types of vegan Champagne from Champagne Legret, a winery that has produced Champagne for four generations in that particular region of France, along with two types of vegan wine from winemaker Gerard Bertrand, which produces wine through biodynamic farming with medicinal plants in southern France.
Along with the different varieties of wine and Champagne, a variety of vegan dishes are offered, including Provence-style ratatouille, Egyptian falafel and an onion tomato basil tart made with vegan Parmesan cheese.
Yoo recommended that vegan and nonvegan diners alike try the hotel’s vegan burger with Cabernet Sauvignon Gerard Bertrand, explaining that the wine brings out the natural taste of the grapes.
Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas’ wine shop has been selling vegan wine since January, and Yoo said wines from its vegan selection sell better than other wines.
“Vegan wine can make the mind and the body become healthier. It is a small choice that can make everyone happy,” Yoo said.
Other bars in Seoul equipped with vegan meal options and vegan-friendly wine lists are Point Frederick in the Hongdae area and vegan fine dining establishment Monk’s Butcher in Itaewon. Both offer a wide range of vegan dishes as well.
For those with a sweet tooth, cafe and bar True Light in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, offers vegan wine alongside vegan baked goods.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org