Toast this month’s Veganuary with these vegan approved drinks

Raising a glass to 2023 and this month’s ‘Veganuary’ movement, Times Drinks Editor, James Viner discovers four flavourful vegan-friendly tipples…


Reflecting the growing popularity of plant-based eating, vegan drinks are now increasingly in demand. There are many wines that are suitable for vegans since they are made without the use of animal-derived products which are used for ‘fining’ (clarifying) wine. For instance, 63% of the Co-op’s own-brand wine range is vegan-friendly.

So whether you’re merely Veganuary-curious or committed to the cause, you may be reassured to know that I enjoyed all of these without realising they were suitable for vegans. Cheers!


1) Hops away! Classic vegan/low-alcohol beer from London

The Kernel Table Beer (£2.60- £3.80,,,,, 500ml, 3%)

“Pretty much everything we make is vegan,” James Cassimatis told me when I recently visited the Kernel brewery’s Arch 7 Taproom in Bermondsey (SE16 3FJ). While this classic London pale ale may be low in alcohol – the ABV, like the hop mixture, varies slightly from batch to batch, hovering around the 3% target mark – its fruity hop aspect and biscuity sweet malt base make it taste much more impactful. The bitterness is fairly high and long-lasting. “We vary the hops each batch,” James explained, “We have multiple brewers who each do things a little differently and we don’t enforce a strict recipe or process, allowing some experimentation and constant refinement.” Huge flavours can come in small packages (the bottle itself is 500ml mind you)! On a weekend away with a few friends recently, we got through a lot of this. Take a walk on the light side. Lovely vegan drinking.


2) Must-try vegan white for lovers of Chardonnay

Gabb Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2021, Journey’s End Vineyards, Stellenbosch, South Africa(£10.99, Majestic, mix 6, 13.5%)

This very lightly oaked, but fresh, cool-climate South African Chardonnay has a multitude of flavours and considerable depth and keeps trim while exploring mango, peach, nectarine, pineapple, butterscotch and honeysuckle. Subtle oak handling with creamy nougat works the palate through to the finish. Just the ticket for mushroom risotto or (for non-vegans) brill, drenched in butter. Give it a little time to unwind. A delight.


3) Give me bubbly! Must-try vegan-approved English sparkling wine

Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV, Hambledon Vineyard, Hampshire (£29.95-£33, Berry Bros & Rudd, Waitrose Cellar, Ocado, Marks & Spencer, Hambledon, 12%)

Buy this lip-smacking, vegan-friendly Chardonnay- and Pinot Noir-led fizz from the country’s oldest commercial vineyard in the historic village of Hambledon in the South Downs National Park of Hampshire.

Greengage, orchard fruits, dried flowers, stone fruits and quince are elevated by bright acidity and a light biscuity note. Positively dances on the tongue. One – if, like me, you’re not a vegan – for pan-fried scallops, oysters and ongoing celebrations. Hants’ greatest hit!


4) Tiptop vegan-friendly English multi-vintage sparkling rosé

Nyetimber Rosé NV, West Sussex & Hampshire (£37-£43, Wanderlust Wine, Ocado, Marks & Spencer, Majestic, Waitrose, Selfridges, 12%)

Finely beaded, scented, fleshy and delectable, this is bullseye vinous vegan virtuosity. With layer upon layer of subtle flavour, creamy texture and depth, in harmony with a stream of tangy acidity, it’s head-scratchingly sophisticated. Think bright red fruits, baked pastry, almonds, lavender and spice.

Smashing (vegans look away now) with guinea fowl, crab or a pale poached pink fillet of salmon. All class.



It’s made from grapes so surely, it’s appropriate for vegans?

The critical issue here is the fining agent, which may be used to stabilise and clarify the wine before it’s bottled (so it’s star-bright and not hazy). Not all wines are fined but most are and a surprising number of the fining agents are animal-derived. Popular non-vegan fining agents include albumin (or egg whites), isinglass (a protein derived from fish bladders) and casein, the main milk protein.

But fear not, since two vegan fining agents are more and more used, including kaolin and bentonite (both clays) as well as proteins derived from corn, wheat, potatoes and other plants.

Some retailers and winemakers already make this information available on the bottle. Look out for the words unfiltered/unfined on the bottle as that will indicate the wine was made without fining agents and is likely vegan-friendly.

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