Although the wine industry is starting to pre-empt the questions, working out whether a wine is vegan or not is still quite a challenge. Most days you’ll end up loitering in the wine aisle of the supermarket, pretending to examine labels whilst waiting for mobile internet to work. Other days, your eager eyes will light up as you spy a miracle. Enter, Pisani ‘Vegan’ Organic Brut DOC, which rather helpfully has VEGAN emblazoned on the front in big capital letters. Just this once, ignore the quite screams of the traditionalists – at least Google didn’t have to shrug at us on this one.
Considering the merry English are chugging back Prosecco almost as fast as Italy can create it, it’s a steadfast choice for the vegan looking for a girl’s night tipple, no prior research required. Cheaper than champagne and slightly on the sweeter side, Prosecco appeals to many of us – and actually outsells water in Treviso, the Italian province that produces this cheerful sparkling wine.
Fresh, youthful, and made for drinking now, it was a vibrant accompaniment for creamy avocado pasta – the touch of lime zinginess cut through the creaminess rather nicely. It’s made by Mionetto S.p.A, a winery that has been producing Italian sparkling wine deep in the heartland of Prosecco country for over a century. Looking at the bottle you wouldn’t be able to tell – Mionetto is the quiet hand in the background for this wine. To make things more complicated, Mionetto itself has actually been owned by German company Henkell International GmbH since 2008 – the takeover has allowed them to, quote, “anticipate fashions and trends whilst at the same time maintaining a strong bond with the traditions of its homeland”. Essentially, they want to respect the deeply entrenched traditions of wine production, but also keep up with the times – such as acknowledging the demand for vegan-friendly wines. Not something that everyone in the wine industry is willing to do.
They offer at least 13 different styles of Prosecco on the international markets – but this Pisani is the first to be outwardly branded as vegan. It’s actually the first wine full-stop I’ve encountered that is branded as such. It’s also the first wine I’ve listed on the blog that is actually vegan-certified.
Tasting it, there was the crisp sweetness of fresh apple, the floral sweetness of acacia and honeysuckle and the smell of grapes plucked from the sun-kissed hills of Northern Italy, all finished with a little sweet lime. It’s nicely, almost dangerously drinkable – and unlike cheap Frizzante-style Prosecco, its bubbles don’t disappear after five minutes.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is not named after the region – or the grape, in fact. Legally, Prosecco can only be named such if it made in (and using grapes grown in) the region of Veneto in Italy. DOCG, or DOC in the case of this Pisani, are codes to indicate that the wine was actually made where it says it was. Many Prosecco labels will feature the names Conegliano or Valdobbiadene – these are both prestigious growing areas located in Veneto. Though other varieties can be used, Prosecco must be made of at least 85% Glera, which is actually of Slovenien origin. Wine is fun, isn’t it?
So why is it called Prosecco at all?
The Glera grape was initially called Prosecco, after the Slovenian-occupied town in Italy of the same name, where it is thought to have originated. It was only in 2009 that the name was formally changed, as a new label term, Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadine, came into play and it became too confusing. It also ensured no rival countries could craftily label their wines as Prosecco, which they definitely would have done as the hype around Prosecco started to snowball. Today, the Prosecco trade is worth millions.
So, what pairs well with Prosecco?
This Pisani is exclusive to Slurp Wines, a UK-based Merchants who have stores in the West Midlands, as well as an online shop. Amusingly, their recommendations for this Organic-certified, ICEA Vegan-accredited sparkling wine is fish. Another site I found selling it recommends pork. Woohoo! Finally, we plant-based eaters have found ourselves a clearly-labelled vegan wine to match with our roasted pork and shrimp starter. (!)
Sarcasm-aside, the bottle itself is more helpful. Enjoy its “elegant flavour of acacia and intense notes of apple” alongside “legumes, vegetable soups, and light tempuras.” The combination of bubbles and crisp finish in many style of sparkling wine really do compliment the rich, crunchy character of fried foods – so as the label suggested to me, vegetable tempura would be a hit. I opted for pasta with creamy avocado sauce because, well, it’s creamy and delicious enough to warrant a bit of vegan-friendly fizz, whey-hey. And avocados actually do work really well with a crisp sparkling wine.
Other food pairings for Prosecco
The fruity, off-dry nature of a classic Prosecco makes pork a good pairing, particularly the Pisani, which does have pronounced apple flavours. Of course you can conjure the same effect with store-bought or homemade vegan sausages that contain onions, garlic or fragrant savoury herbs like sage and rosemary. Or, marinate tofu in a similar mix. There’s no need to stress too much about it, though. Prosecco is made for drinking whenever, wherever, and in whatever way you like – it doesn’t necessarily need a food pairing to look its best.
For all its merits, in all honesty, I have to admit £12 is pretty expensive for this wine, even when it is so proudly vegan. Ca’ Vittoria Valdobbiadene DOCG, which I reviewed a while ago, is £2 more than the Pisani, but I would pay that little bit extra. Pisani, however, I’d probably want to see it at around £10 – and that’s also taking into account that it is a local wine merchant’s exclusive.
Worth a try? Yes. But there may be better wines available for the money. At the end of the day, it’ll please a crowd, and it makes for pretty easy drinking, so there’s nothing much to complain about!