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Here Come the Holidays: Top Vegan Wines of 2011

People come together to celebrate a variety of holidays in December. For many of us, not only are there the obligatory activities, but holiday parties are in full swing, too. What better time to relax with a cruelty-free wine? Sometimes when attending a party or an event, it’s not only courteous to bring a gift, but it might be the only way to be sure you can share in the toasting. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to gently bring up the subject of veganism. Gently. Remember, it’s holiday time.

Here’s a recap of a few of our favorites from 2011. These wines would be welcomed as a host/hostess gift or fantastic for serving in your home.

Winning White Wines

For white wines, a sweeter white wine is often a wise choice for people who aren’t necessarily wine drinkers. If the party is in your home and it’s affordable, opening both a sweet and a dry white wine should keep everyone happy. For the sweet, a German Riesling is an ideal pick. Choose one that is labeled ‘Spatlese’.

The Vegan Vine Sauvignon Blanc is a steal and probably my all-time favorite white wine for the price. It’s got wonderful fruit flavors and a lovely texture. This company just hit the market this year, and I’m so glad they did.

Ladybug White Cuvee III from Lolonis Vineyard is a smooth blend. It’s slightly on the dry side but the fruit is still present.

The Best of the Reds

In choosing a red wine, try not to pick the biggest, boldest bottle from the shelf. Unless you know cabernet sauvignon is a favorite for some of your guests, steer towards a more middle- of-the-road red wine. Blends are good choices, as they are combinations of different varietals so tend to please a wide range of palates.

Renegade (from the Renegade Wine Company) is an easy drinking red, but with a complexity to appeal to more serious wine drinkers. Washington State continues to come on strong in crafting vegan wines that are very food–friendly.

Stellar Organics Merlot is another good choice and often a bargain. Wines from South Africa and South America are relatively inexpensive compared to their French or American counterparts. This wine is fruity and full, but not so big that it alienates people.

Cashmere (from Cline Cellars) is a slightly more expensive wine and is from California. Still, with it being the holidays, if you are a part of an intimate gathering, it’s a delicious indulgence.

Bring on the Bubbly!

In the right circumstances, champagne is the best choice. With those tiny bubbles, they just scream ‘celebration’.  Choose any champagne from Moet and you’ll have an elegant glass to raise. Champagnes vary in how dry or sweet they are (as well as prices), so check with your salesperson if you’re not sure which you’d prefer. Fun fact: a scientific study partially funded by Moet concluded that there are between 49 million and 250 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne. Impress your friends with your knowledge!

Get-togethers in Your Home

When the party is at your place, the plans are in your hands. If you’re so inclined, it’s fun to encourage others to bring an appetizer or dish to share. That takes some of the stress off of you as the host/hostess. If nothing else, be sure to serve bread and crackers. With all the wonderful vegan cheeses now on the market, they are a natural complement to a glass of wine. For shopping purposes, a bottle of wine will yield 4 glasses of wine, or 5 if you pour lightly. The number of bottles you’ll need depends on several factors. Is your party the destination or a more of an open house? Will you be serving appetizers or a meal? How long do you expect your guests to stay? You know your friends best, so factor in their drinking habits. Keep in mind that in some states, there is a discount of 10% if you purchase a case (12 bottles) of wine. Some stores even offer a 5% discount on half cases. Wine can have a long shelf life, so it is better to have too much than not enough.

Holiday Wishes to You

At this time of year, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who are vegan or vegan-curious. Every cruelty-free meal is a step in the right direction. Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays, however you celebrate.  All the best in 2012.