Is dry farming the way forward for the world’s wine industry?

Climate change is affecting the way wine is made right now. It’s no longer a vague future threat, but more of a ticking time bomb. And as the wine industry uses vast amounts of water, experts are looking for new ways to keep crops growing. Some vineyards have already taken on the challenge and have instigated dry farming.

While the wine industry has been making moves to change the way wine is made, most sustainable solutions focus on things like biodiversity and renewable energy. However, freshwater irrigation remains the biggest problem facing the wine industry as we move into a new world of adapting to extreme weather.

What impact does the wine industry have on the global water supply?

A recent piece of research reveals that more than a third of consumers take the time to look for companies and brands that are concerned with environmental and ethical impact. Within the millennial generation, three-quarters of consumers are happy to spend more on products that are truly sustainable.

However, the use of water irrigation in the wine industry has failed to pick up many headlines. Around 83% of wine regions in the New World are irrigated using fresh water. In the Old World, it drops to 10%.

How much water does it take to make wine?

According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes 5 litres of water to produce a 125ml glass of wine. This is without irrigation and is based on the water used in the winery alone. If we add in irrigation, it rises to 110 litres of water per glass of wine in a normal climate, and 240 litres in regions suffering from drought. Of course, the freshwater used to make wine differs a lot depending on the region.

The global wine industry is worth more than £229 billion, and wine grapes are the most valuable fruit crop in existence. Some scientists say that the land suitable for wine making will have diminished by up to three-quarters by 2050. All of which gives plenty of impetus to implement solutions such as dry farming.

What is ‘dry farming’?

Dry farming refers to a method of soil preparation that makes the most of the moisture from winter rainfall, which is used to sustain the vines as they grow. It guides root systems, so they grow deep enough to find water and micro-nutrients themselves. Irrigated vines have root systems that stay very close to the surface, so that they are vulnerable.

There’s a lot of work involved in making dry farming work, but it does make tastier, sweeter grapes. It also allows the soil and vine to live a longer, more stable life. It is inevitable that at some point in the future, it won’t be possible to irrigate vines in some regions. This means managing water effectively should be the most important factor in vineyards moving towards true sustainability.

Effective wine matching for vegan dishes

A record-breaking number of people signed up for Veganuary 2018, with the campaign growing by 183%. Mid-way through Veganuary 2019, it’s likely that this will increase even more as the vegan trend takes hold. There are also an increasing number of wines available to buy online that are vegan, but what about matching them with food?

Effective wine matching easier than you think

There’s a lot of noise about going vegan in the media right now and included in this are vegan wines. However, it’s not really a new thing to have vegan wines available. Today there are lots of wines that are made in such a way that makes them suitable vegans, and they’ve been around for a while.

The main requirement for vegan wines is that they are made with no animal products used. The usual animal-derived products used in wine production include isinglass (fish bladder), milk protein and egg whites, which are used during the clarification process known as ‘fining’.

Look at the label

As with any other wine preference, the easiest way to tell whether a wine is vegan is to check the label. Many producers include the information clearly on the label, and online wine sellers will also specific. For people who are concerned about additives used in wine-making, there are also lots of organic wines available that are not fined during manufacturing.

When selecting vegan wine, it’s also important to consider the food you’re eating. If you are on a diet consisting of plant derivatives, and you’re not ingesting large portions of protein, then robust red wines aren’t necessary when matching wine with food.

Pairing with vegan food

While vegan dishes don’t have great portions of protein, obviously they can still have huge flavours. However, the flavours in vegan dishes don’t tend to tame the tannin in wine in the way that dairy and meat does.

With this in mind, vegans looking for the ideal wine for their dinner party should steer towards lighter wines. This is particularly the case if dishes are also light in carbs and consist of mostly vegetables, fruit and salad.

Light reds are always a good option, such as the frappato grape from Sicily. Frappato di Vittoria always produces grapey but light wines, which work well with healthy, fresh food. An Aussie red that works brilliantly with veg based dishes is Gertie Cabernet Franc Clare Valley, which has an exuberant, light flavour.

Effective wine matching is a lot to do with personal taste. What works for one vegan cook won’t work for another. However, the good news for vegans and vegetarians looking to exclude animal products from their tipple, is that there are loads of options available at all price points.

Can You Pair Wine with Sushi?

When you think of sushi, you may not always think of wine as the natural pairing. Yet, it can work amazingly well – if you know what you’re doing. It is a tricky match to get right, as sushi, like all Asian food, is more challenging to pair with wine – essentially a European invention – because Japanese cuisine has evolved alongside grain-based drinks like beer and sake, not wine. But this doesn’t mean that sushi and wine can’t exist well together. Ideal Wine Company loves this combination and we have everything you need to know to make this pairing perfect. Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

Ideal Wine Company sushi and wine
Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

What qualities should you look out for?

Sushi works well with certain varieties of wine – so you need to be looking out for these. Essentially, the standard rule is that the wine can’t be too dry, as it will clash with the fish. Similarly, the wine can’t be too sweet – think of the wine that is usually paired with Chinese or Thai food – as this swamps the fine delicacy of the fish.

When pairing wine and sushi, you should be striving for a good balance between sweet and dry. A fine balance, integrity, good fruit and crisp acidities are all desirable qualities to look for in your wine. As a general rule, Rieslings of Germany and Alsace, and their New World counterparts make splendid companions for sushi.

Our favourite pairings

  • Salmon roll – dry rosé

A salmon roll usually consists of cucumber, avocado and salmon rolled in rice and coated in seaweed. With these flavour combinations, you can expect fresh and light flavours. This means that it works well with a dry rosé.  The salmon makes the tart cherry and citrus in the wine pop and its minerality turn to sweet brininess.

  • Spicy tuna roll – Riesling

A spicy tuna roll can pack a punch! Filled with spice, this tuna and rice roll offers plenty of flavour and heat, meaning your wine needs to be able to handle this. Our top pick for this is a very barely off-dry Riesling. As you need a big-bodied white for the meaty fish, this wine can handle everything. Riesling is mouth-filling, with sweet stone fruit to stand up to the spice and a mineral edge that loves the brininess of nori.

  • Prawn nigiri – Pinot Gris

A prawn nigiri is a simple offering. It is essentially a prawn placed over pressed vinegared rice. When thinking of a pairing for this dish, you’ll need to make the prawn your focus. We suggest choosing a Pinot Gris. The apple and aromatic stone fruit in the wine are perfect links to sweet prawns, with a hit of citrus serving as a spritz of lemon. It’s a perfect match!

While it may not be the obvious option, pairing your sushi with wine can prove to be very delicious! While it may be a slightly harder match, the results can pay off big time. Why not try wine with your next sushi meal?

Livening Up Brunch with The Perfect Bottle of Wine

Brunch has something for everyone. This mid-morning meal is now growing in popularity as an indulgent treat – and we’re here for it! From sweet to savoury dishes, it’s a perfect meal. While many of us opt for a classic buck’s fizz, there are so many more wine options available to you. When you’re planning your next brunch, make sure that you’ve got the perfect bottle of wine as an accompaniment. Let’s look at some of Ideal Wine Company’s favourite pairings for brunch…

Ideal Wine Company Brunch
Brunch has something for everyone, here are our favourite wine pairings for brunch…

Avocado on toast – Sauvignon Blanc

This simple brunch dish has taken off in recent years. Now one of the most popular offerings on any menu, avocado on toast is a must-have for any brunch. No matter what your bread, from simple wheat bread to sourdough, the topping of smashed avocado makes the perfect savoury treat. To match this, look for a Sauvignon Blanc as a great starting point. It is the perfect wine for the avocado ensemble as it plays up the green theme and adds well-needed acidity – like a squeeze of lemon.

Blueberry pancakes – Moscato d’Asti

If you’re in the mood for a sweat treat this brunch, look no further than blueberry pancakes. These fluffy offerings are light and full of sweet blueberry flavours. Although delicious, they can mean that you’re facing a lot of dough. To combat this, your wine should be light and sweet to match the dish. A Moscato d’Asti is a vibrant wine, with flavours of nectarine, honey and peach acting as the perfect complement to this berry-heavy dish.

Eggs Benedict – Prosecco

Eggs Benedict is a brunch classic. It’s a perfectly toasted English muffin halves topped with crispy bacon, a perfectly poached egg, and a generous pour of creamy hollandaise sauce – a delicious addition to any brunch. With the creamy flavours and variety of flavours on offer, you may think it’s a hard dish to pair, but it all comes down to knowing what you’re looking for. Importantly, you should be adding sweetness to your dish – but not too much. The perfect choice would be an Extra Dry Prosecco. Bringing just a hint of sweetness, the fruit flavours in this crisp wine bring an ideal balance to the dish. With its acidity, you’ll even find your palate cleansed between bites.

Yogurt and Fruit – Gewürztraminer

It’s a breakfast and brunch dish that has been enjoyed for decades – but has recently started gaining traction as a popular food trend. With a base of yogurt and a wide range on toppings on offer, from bananas to honey, this healthy option is a great alternative if you’re looking for something lighter.

For this pairing, you should focus on a wine with strong aromatics. This is because yogurt offers very little in the way of aromas, and thus, aromatic wines can really add more perceived flavour to the dish. Gewürztraminer with its intense aromas of lychee, rose, grapefruit and allspice will really take your everyday yogurt bowl to the next level.

What Wine Should You Serve at Easter Lunch?

With Easter coming up soon – this year it falls on Sunday 1 April – it’s time to get ready for your Easter lunch. This is the perfect time to gather your friends and family to celebrate Easter and Spring. Whether you opt for a classic lamb dish or a fresh green salad, we’re here to give you the perfect pour. Here are some of Ideal Wine Company’s favourite wines to serve at Easter lunch.

Ideal Wine Company Easter
With Easter coming up soon it’s time to get your favourite wine ready for your Easter lunch.

Lamb – Cabernet Sauvignon

For spring and Easter, the quintessential dish has to be lamb. Coming into season at this time, it’s a popular dish that you can expect to see on many tables. As lamb is a strong meat in flavour, you’ll need to look for a wine that can match it. For this, a Cabernet Sauvignon is your best bet. With this wine, you can expect a tannic, full-bodied red that can stand up to the strength of lamb. The richness and texture of the meat will be complemented by the ripe plum and earthy flavours with hints of chocolate. A great choice to break out this Easter!

Glazed Ham – Pinot Noir

A glazed ham is synonymous with sweet and sour flavours. The saltiness of the ham is usually in perfect balance with the sweetness of the glaze. When it comes to pairing your wine with this, you’ll want to make sure you’re not interrupting this relationship. Try opting for a Pinot Noir, which should help to provide the perfect stability you’re looking for. This wine’s low tannins and high acidity is the perfect complement to the ham. With cherry fruit flavours and a little spice on the palate, a Pinot Noir continues the harmony between sweet and sour.

Fresh green salad – Assyrtiko

With spring finally upon us, it’s time to bring together all the amazing fresh produce we can get our hands on. This means greens – and what better way to showcase them than with a fresh green salad. Combining the freshest green vegetables on offer with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is an ideal dish for Easter lunch. To bring out the freshness of the salad, the best accompaniment is Assyrtiko, a white wine from Greece. This light and crisp wine offers bright flavours, bracing acidity and an elegant mineral character. A truly refreshing choice.

Lemon tart – Muscat

No celebratory lunch is complete without pudding! For Easter, a lemon tart is the perfect option. Combining sweetness, slight tartness and a light finish, this dessert brings out the flavours of the season. When pairing wine with this tart, look for a Muscat. With fruit flavours including citrus, lime, kumquats, confit of orange zest and green pineapple, it is a refreshing burst of flavour. The richness on the palate, with its vibrant acidity, will lift and support the lemon creaminess. It’s the perfect way to end your meal.

Easter is all about light spring dishes. Make sure to keep all your flavours balanced with each other and remember that refreshing options are usually your best choices. With your perfect pour in hand – it’s time to celebrate Easter!