Lynda Brown - 30 November 2011
Sorry to sound a killjoy but I am not a fan of the festive season. A month of retail madness which is as far away from everything that matters to me as you can get. However, it is an opportunity to seek out some really nice food and drink. So, if I could have one wish, please Santa, it would be as many people as possible go native, say "No" to supermarket fodder and their celebrity cohorts peddling upmarket factory food, and discover the pleasure and benefits of buying from real artisan producers, and introducing friends and family to their favourite organic producers.
Fortunately, when it comes to booze , we're very lucky. We have two first class mail order/on line organic wine companies,Vinceremos (www.vinceremos.co.uk), and Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk).The pleasure bit starts the minute you start browsing their catalogues:a seductive collection of organic, biodynamic, low-sulphur, and the latest trend, no-added sulphur wines - all so different from the token fairtrade/organic selection in supermarkets who need to keep up the facade of being green. Vegetarians and vegans are amply catered for, plus beers, ciders, spirits, liqueurs etc. In short every tipple you could wish for.The knowledge of their wines, the sheer variety on offer, the passion for their producers and what they do, all underpinned by right on ethics at every turn oozes out from their pages. You haven't touched a drop but you immediately feel intoxicated - as Claudia Winkleman would say - but in a good way
Ad that's just for starters. I'm really picky about whatever food and drink I buy (basically I'm the customer from hell) , but I'm also genuinely hungry - and thirsty - for knowledge. I need to do business with people who care about what they do and who are happy to talk and give advice. Pick up the phone to these guys and you're in for a treat - something you could never accuse the supermarket shopping experience of delivering.
This Christmas, for anyone like me who enjoys drinking wines but needs to be careful of their effect, low sulphur and the new wine buzz, no added sulphur wines, are worth highlighting. Sulphur dioxide, which is both an antiseptic and anti-oxidant,develops naturally during fermentation (traces of sulphites are found in 99% of wines), has been used as a wine preservative since the Romans at least, and is legally added to virtually all wines.Over 10 parts per million, and the wine must legally include a 'contains sulphites' on the label - and it's these which contribute to the hangover feeling, headaches or allergic reactions .
The good news is permitted maximum amounts for organic and biodynamic wines is much less (30-50%) than that permitted in their conventional counterparts - another reason, as if you needed one, why organic wines are a good bet. A few brave wine producers are going further and making natural wines with no added sulphur. To quote Vintage Roots,"Still rare, it takes skill and courage to do so, but the totally unsullied, living wine can be a revelation". One to watch and definitely worth looking out for.
And the wines I want for Christmas? The one called Wild Thing (of course !) from Vintage Roots, their own label, both organic , Fairtrade, and supports the Born Free Foundation; from Vinceremos, mmm, all their no added sulphur wines look very tempting: a biodynamic Gavi, the first no-sulphur Prosecco Brut from Italy, their Fairtrade South African Cabernet Sauvignon, a Tempranillo from Spain, and a Bourgogne Rouge. Mustn't forget Vintage Roots' no added sulphur Verdicchio, Fairtrade South African Merlot , Spartico Tempranillo from Valencia, either, er , and how about.......
Good job both have festive offers - go check their websites, and have a very merry conscious -happy Xmas !.
Lynda is an award-winning food writer and broadcaster, and keen advocate for organic living. She is author of several food books over the last twenty years including Planet Organic: Organic Living, The Cook's Garden, and The Modern Cook's Handbook, as well as writing The Preserving Book that was published in 2010 in association with the Soil Association. Lynda is an expert on food and nutrition and a seasoned broadcaster, regularly speaking on food and farming both on the radio and television.
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30 November 2012 01:51
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01 December 2011 12:26
Christmas? Bah! Humbug! Yes, am afraid I am no fan of retail stress either. We have managed to ban presents in our family for the second year running.However, I am partial to organic family feasting at this time of year - and that is a joy.
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