If you fancy a glass of wine or two, especially as we approach the festive season, how do you know the wine you choose has not been stored in ex-grain spirit barrels? Therein lies the problem with wine for some us most sensitive souls.
I usually stick to Cava made only in the ‘method champagnoise’ as it used to be termed. This means wines made using the traditional champagne method (which includes being fermented and aged in the bottle ie. glass rather than barrel), but the term can no longer be used as it relates only to the Champagne region of France now. Obviously, that means Champagne, if you can afford it, is in, but so is Spanish Cava, which is also made using the traditional method and cannot be labelled Cava if it isn’t.
Don’t be thinking, though, that any sparkling wine is made this way: it isn’t. Most often, sparklys are just normal wine with carbon dioxide pumped into them.
I LOVE a glass of red wine, though, and have really missed it. I started reacting to it and, once I had established the barrel storage problem and the fact that finings like casein (dairy protein), egg, soya, shellfish etc can be used, I realised why. Giving it up was far from easy but I had to.
Then, two things happened. First, I heard a piece on Radio 4 on natural wines (don’t worry: I listen to radio 4 only when forced to in the car with P – this most certainly does NOT include The Archers which only makes me fall asleep at the wheel -although I do like some of the news and comedy programmes) and, second, Clare mentioned goodwinesonline, who specialise in sulphite-free and natural wines. I was intrigued.
The lovely people at goodwines sent me a free bottle of So-Lo Navitas to try as it is stored in concrete tanks rather than barrels in a ‘cosmoculture’ French winery. It has nothing added to it either. Happily, although almost falling over at the first few sips (no longer used to strong-tasting red wine), I found it was fine and I had no reaction. Hoorah! I speedily ordered myself ‘Buy 12 and Get 1 Free’ and took two bottles on hols with me.
I note today that they have an offer on of Buy 6 Get I Free so might be a good time to stock your cupboard for Christmas. Suitable for anyone who doesn’t want a hangover in the morning too, not just for TGFers! Use the discount code SOLO to get the freebie.
You can read much more about this wine and other sulphite free ones, plus all about the winemaker by scrolling down to the Domaine Viret section on this page at www.goodwinesonline.co.uk, but, in the meantime, here is a bit of blurb for you:
SO LO SO2 is a brand new brand of natural wine, developed specifically for people looking for wines with minimal sulphur. SO LO SO2 have partnered up with several top wineries around the world to produce quality boutique wines, made as naturally as possible with an absolute minimal sulphur content. For their first wine ‘Navitas’ they went straight to the experts – Domain Viret in the Rhone Valley. This wine isn’t just low in sulphur – it is legally classed as sulphite free as there are only tiny traces of sulphur, so miniscule even the laboratory couldn’t measure them. The wine is a blend of 5 different grapes, predominantly Merlot and Mouverdre 30% each with 20% Cabernet and a little Caladoc and Marselan. The wine was subsequently aged in tank for 12 months after blending. Deep ruby with purple hints. Immediately on opening the nose shows some fruit. Blackcurrant and blackberry flavours on the palate with a slight spice and very mild vanilla on the finish. Once ‘opened’ this wine is very smooth with medium body and a great overall balance between fruit, tannin, acidity and alcohol. Lovely on it’s own, even better when paired with food. This wine is best left to aerate for 15 to 20 minutes prior to drinking, preferably decant if you can. Great stuff! It is also improving with bottle age and has subsequently earned an upgraded ratiing of 90/100.
It’s not cheap (£11.99 a bottle), but then neither should it be for this quality and allergy-friendliness, but the freebie will bring the price per bottle down, of course.
FoodsMatter have also done some articles if you want to find out more on the sulphite in wines issue. Check here: Sulphite Free Wine.