When wellbeing meets wine
We're into health and fitness but we also love a Chablis or three. Sound familiar? We asked a wine expert how best to combine our two favourite hobbies. Cheers!
We’re definitely interested in fitness Muddy – there’s a lot of office chat about yoga, half marathons and hardcore fitness bootcamps! But there’s also a lot of talk about booze glorious booze – and the occasional midweek stinking hangover to contend with (er, hello last Friday, possibly the worst collective Muddy team hangover ever after a night on the champers, cocktails and vodka shots at Victors at Westgate Oxford).
The duality of modern woman, eh? We imagine you’re probably the same – big on healthy living but partial to a tipple. No surprise that the vineyards have clocked the trend, with wine and wellbeing now being uttered in the same sentence and ‘healthy’ wines being marketed at delighted consumers. We’ve grabbed Hugh Taylor, connoisseur ne plus ultra and MD of Slurp, the brilliant Banbury/online wine merchant (900 wines from £5-£300!), to cut to the truth of the matter. Pour me a large one Hugh, it’s time to talk.
Are organic wines healthier?
There’s a perception that they’re healthier as no fertilisers are used on the grapes, although there are not necessarily less chemicals in the wine. Organic wine is defnitely a growth area though – we have lots of customers calling up looking for organic options, and more producers are trying to make organic wines now, though many don’t end up going through the organic accreditation process as it costs a lot of money.
But are they less likely to give you a hangover? (*Crosses fingers*)
That’s not true – sorry! Ending up with a hangover depends on many variables – the alcohol content of wine, how you drink it (on an empty or full stomach, slowly or quickly) and how much you drink of course! But on the plus side, organic wines aren’t as expensive as people sometimes assume. If you want to give organic wine a whirl, a good entry level white one is Running Duck Chenin Blanc (£7.95). If you prefer red, try Medievo Organic Rioja Crianza (£10.95).
We keep hearing about vegan wines – but isn’t all wine vegan anyway?
Many wines are vegan/vegetarian by default but people are increasingly asking us about them and producers are increasingly seeking accreditation to label their bottles as vegan. If a wine isn’t vegan/vegetarian, it’s often down the clarification process – if a wine is cloudy, the wine-maker may add egg yolk or fish guts to pick up particles, which they then sift out. And it’s worth bearing in mind that when grapes are harvested, small insects get caught up in the process, so it’s unlikely that any wine is 100 percent vegan!
Well, that’s put me right off my Chianti. Any thoughts on lower alcohol wines? We’re really interested in these but the ones we’ve tried are rank.
Historically people didn’t look at the ABV [alcohol by volume] content of wine but we’re much more conscious of it now, especially as we now drink a lot more New World wines which often have heftier alcohol levels than old world ones. Happily, the lower alcohol ones coming through are getting better and better. Look out for Domaine du Tariquet whites from south-west France, which come in at 10.5 percent or look out for an 8.5 percent Riesling – forget your preconceptions about this German white being naff.
As for reds, it’s harder to find decent lower alcohol ones – 12 percent ABV is probably the lowest you’ll find that taste OK. One exception is Brown Brothers Cienna 2016, which is only 6.5 percent ABV and has a slightly spritzy taste. I also like Rometta Sangiovese 2016 (12 percent ABV) and Baumard Clos de la Folie Anjou 2015 (12.5 percent ABV).
Is better quality wine better for you?
More expensive wine is not necessarily healthier although a pricier bottle is perhaps more likely to be sipped and appreciated while a cheaper wine is more likely to be glugged! Red wine has more antioxidants than white wine and the darker the wine, the higher the antioxidant level so the best grape varieties to go for are Tannat, Sagrantino, Petite Sirah (aka Durif), Marselan and Nebbiolo. Plus obviously the lower the ABV, the better it is for you, and drier is better, with dry wines having fewer carbs than sweet wines.
Spend a little bit more and drink a little bit less! I’m finding these days many couples will think twice before tucking into the second bottle at home – they’re savouring and appreciating wine more, and pairing it with food, rather than swigging it like Coca Cola.
Slurp, 2 Riverside, Tramway Road, Banbury OX16 5TU; 01295 672296. You can also order online at slurp.co.uk
Words: Kerry Potter