If the cork industry is killed off, it’s likely companies will tear down the cork forests (home to native wildlife in Spain and Portugal), so keeping the cork industry thriving benefits all creatures. Look for bottles with real corks (not ‘resin’ that looks like corn). Although natural, corks are too tightly packed to break down, so recycle them (corks are choking hazards for pets/children). If you can’t find corked wine (or find it difficult to open the bottles), look for metal screw-caps (most councils accept tops in recycling waste bags).
You can recycle bottles at glass recycling banks (blue bottles can go in green banks) or some councils let you recycle at home. Most recycling facilities have a way to remove the labels.
HUN Wine produces vegan wine – in a can. Made with Fair Trade ingredients, this is available in Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and bubbly Rose.
Besa Mi Vino is another brand of organic vegan canned wine, which unlike conventional wines, is free from the average 70 chemicals (pesticides, food dyes and added sugar).
Is Your Wine Vegan-Friendly?
Secondly, look for brands that say ‘vegan‘ as these are free from filtering using bone char and fish bladders (be careful as even ‘ethical Co-op supermarket makes brands made with gelatine). The popular brand Blossom Hill also contains animal products. Proudly Vegan Wines offers wines with vegan-friendly labels too.
The Vegan Wine Trio Gift Set consists of a Prosecco, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc in a lovely gift box.
A Better Bottle of Bubbly!
- Terra Organica offers organic vegan wines, with producers from small family wineries that work with nature. The company offers bottles in beautiful cardboard packaging, some of the wineries run on green energy. The range includes gift boxes of organic sparkling Prosecco, plus white/red or mixed cases. Natural cork is used for the bottles, though a plastic closure is used for the 20cl sparkling wine and champagne, until something more planet-friendly comes to market (the aluminium cap and plastic mushroom topper can be recycled with normal household waste).
- Renegade & Longton (Hastings) produces sparkling wines made from elderflowers, as opposed to grapes. Dry, fruity and floral, this is good with canapes and nibbles (the rhubarb version also contains strawberries and blackberries, made with Victorian-inspired French techniques for a dry nutty taste).
- Wild Thing Organic Prosecco has soft apple and pear aromas, with a citrus palate. The bottle can be re-sealed and profits help Born Free Foundation, which helps animal welfare conservation worldwide.
- The Goodness Project offers good sparkling wine gifts at their online shop, including corporate gifts (many are sold with chocolate, use a letterbox guard near pets).
- Savage Wines offers nice vegan sparkling wines, including cases of Brut sparkling wine.
- Belle & Co Alcohol-Free Sparkling White Wine is made with a bold infusion of fermented grape juice, carbonated water, glucose and green tea that bursts with flaour. Also in rose.
A Glass of Wine (to save sea creatures)
Sea Change (Scotland) uses profits to help sea creatures (This company has removed the plastic wrap on top of the bottle and make labels partly from grape waste, and use minimal packaging. All the labels feature hand-drawn sea creatures (look closely to see the hidden plastic, to illustrate the dangers of plastic pollution). The vegan options include:
- The Starfish Label features an award-winning Prosecco from romantic Veneto in northeast Italy. 8 of the world’s 40 species of starfish are endangered, mostly through ‘sea star wasting disease’, believed to be caused by global warming. 8 different forms of plastic have been found in the stomachs of starfish.
- The Whale Label is an enigmatic Château Canet from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, featuring zesty Sauvignon Blanc, a fruit-forward Merlot and a stylish rosé. Whales can weigh up to 200 tons and be 100 feet in length. Just 400 North Atlantic whales remain (one dead pilot whale was found to have 80 plastic bags in the stomach).
- The Dolphin Label is a pair of award-winning wines from Puglia in southern Italy: a vibrant refreshing Chardonnay and rich fruity Negroamaro. The 40 species of dolphin are related to whales and porpoises. Yet just 92 remain of the Irrawaddy dolphin species in Asia. Many whale and dolphin species have been recorded eating plastic, mistaking it for food.
- The Turtle Label is sold through Star Pubs, and features cool climate grape varieties of Sauvignon and Merlot. All 7 species of marine turtles are endangered, with 2 critically endangered. Plastic pollution has been found in 100% of turtles surveyed (often because they mistake plastic bags – and balloons – for their favourite food of jellyfish).
Homemade Wine Recipes (beyond grapes)
Read Wild Wine Making to make a selection of easy-to-create fruit and other wines. Recipes include: Blackberry Rhubarb, Blueberry Pear, Damson Plum, Cherry Rhubarb, Golden Raspberry, Spiced Peach, Dandelion, Elderflower, Lilac Flower, Rose Petal, Rosehip, Rosemary and Apple or Plum Champagne.
Wine Bottles with Lower Carbon Footprints
Frugal Bottle has a food-grade liner to keep liquids cool, but uses up to 77% less plastic, and is cheaper and five times lighter, with a water footprint 4 times lower than glass. Put the separated liner and bottle in recycling bins.
Recycled plastic clothing is not that great as it releases microplastics in the washing machine. So choosing other items to use up plastic waste is a good idea, and one way is to choose wine bottles made from it like Garçon Wines (Tempranilla has a deep purple colour with notes of cherry and berry) have easily recycled caps, and a flat design for easy transport. The bottle is designed with a ‘tip angle’ (same as the Leaning Tower of Pisa) so empty bottles remain stable, even if accidentally knocked (good if you like red wine, but have a cream carpet!)
Although glass is inert, the carbon footprint of making the bottle then shipping it round the world is immense (around 33 billion are made each year, just for wine). And smashed glass causes injury to wildlife. Neither the shapeor material of this bottle affects the taste, although it can’t be used to house sparkling wine.
Where to Find Sustainable Sparkling Wine
Rather than buy the big supermarket brands of bubbly, why not support brands that are more sustainable, and do good as you sip your tipple?
Wild Life Botanicals is a pioneering sparkling wine with low alcohol, and filled with a wide range of herbs. Less than 35 calories per glass, it contains lemon balm, damask rose, rosemary, damiana and ashwagandha (not for pregnancy/nursing or thyroid issues).
Adgestone Vineyard makes local sparkling wines in a secluded 10-acre vineyard with sea views. Using locally foraged fruits and flowers, here is home to England’s only sparkling blue wine! Created by a bored tax lawyer and her eccentric engineer husband, they also run Arson Fire, a small range of chilli dipping sauces.
Make Your Own Mulled Wine & Punch
Mulled wine is simply warmed spiced wine, so always check your brand at Barnivore, to ensure it’s vegan. Most mulled wine is served with fruits and spices, a bit like hot fruit punch. Many monks make mulled wine, but check as some brands contain honey (mead). Keep alcohol and mulling spices like nutmeg away from pets.
Easy Citrus Mulled Wine (Crowded Kitchen) is made with cinnamon, cloves, star arnise and cardamom. The spices are mulled with apple cider, maple syrup, brandy and citrus.
Tart Cherry Mulled Wine (Minimalist Baker) was inspired by traditional red wine and spices, but this drink swaps the wine for tart cherry juice, and you can add a boozy twist with whisky or rum, if you want. Takes just 20 minutes with 5 ingredients, in one pot.
Sparkling Fresh Fruit Punch (The Vegan 8) is made with lots of fresh fruits, with a carbonated fizzy feel. Ideal for Christmas or summer parties, as an alternative to sugary punches from the grocery. Punch is thought to be one of the first cocktails. It originally had five ingredients, which is why the name is apparently Indian for the word ‘five’. Others say the drink was created by sailors, most of whom were illiterate at the time, so would not haven written down the name. However, we may have them to thank for this delicious drink!