Vegan and Vegetarian Wines

Vegan Vegetarian BannerFor those who adopt a Vegetarian or Veganism lifestyle, choosing a bottle of wine as your preferred liquid refreshment may not be as straightforward as one would think. Whilst wine label information is slowly becoming more informative and regulations dictate certain details must now be disclosed, there are still aspects of a wines history missing from wine labels that could aid consumers further in their decision making process, especially those with a vegan or vegetarian philosophy.


Many would believe that a wine labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ would be a good starting point, but this winemaking process has no bearing on whether the wine will be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. What is important is how the wine is treated or finished in the final stages of production and it is this which can create a potential moral hazard!

Most winemakers choose to clarify and stabilise their wines before bottling by using a practice known as fining. There are good reasons to do this not least because fining a wine not only makes the wine look clear, but it also lowers the risk that the wine will take on unwanted flavours or aromas in the bottle before it is opened.

In order to ascertain if a wine is suitable for a vegetarian or vegan you need to know how the wine is ‘fined’. The substances used by winemakers for fining can be derived from many sources, some of which are animal based.

For example gelatine (protein from animal bones and cartilage), isinglass (swim bladders from fish) are certainly not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Other fining agents such as Casein (milk protein) and albumen (egg whites) would be considered acceptable fining agents for vegetarians but would still be unacceptable for strict vegans.

Thankfully, for vegans there are non-animal alternatives that do exist and which are used by winemakers all over the world. Some of these include bentonite (impure clay), kieselguhr (sedimentary rock), kaolin (clay mineral) and silica gel. In addition there are winemakers who choose not to fine their wines at all, those who choose to filter only and those that choose to neither ‘fine’ nor ‘filter’ and often declare their wine ‘unfiltered’.

It is worth noting that none of the fining agents actually remain in the wine at all after clarification, but the fact that they have had contact with the liquid is an important consideration for some people.


  • Bentonite (clay base)
  • Kieselghur
  • Kaolin
  • PVPP (polyvinylpolypyrolidone)
  • Use of tangential filter
  • No fining


  • Casein (milk)
  • Albumen (eggs)


  • Gelatine (protein from animal bones / cartilage)
  • Isinglass (fish swim bladders)

A wide range of wines and sparkling wines suitable for both Vegans and Vegetarians are available to buy online by the bottle, case or as part of a mixed case from the Hic! wine shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Andalucía

Andalucia Wine GuideThe Andalucía region of southwestern Spain is home to the world famous fine wines of Sherry, which takes its name from the town of Jerez and also the dessert style wines of Montilla-Moriles (DO).

These ancient lands have been planted to vineyards for nearly 3,000 years. But this part of Iberia was long under the control of the Moors and Islam and winemaking was discouraged, if not outright forbidden, here from 711 to 1492.

For many visitors to the region Andalucía can appear to be more moonscape rather than landscape; hot and arid, rugged and hard. But remarkably Andalucía’s mountains carry other possibilities. With abrupt shifts in elevation, fascinating dessert wines have been produced within areas such as Montilla-Moriles and Málaga and with temperatures easily surpassing 100°F in the summer, this is an area ideal for the production of fortified and dessert style wines.
Andalucía’s most famous wine area, Jerez (Sherry), receives more rainfall than most other parts of southern Spain. That rain is captured by the special limestone-rich soils of the area, called ‘albariza’, that bake in the summer sun into a hard crust, trapping cool moisture for the vines’ needs.

Understanding Sherry and its complexities is a bit of a minefield and can leave many bewildered by the various styles and types. But it is quite simple: Sherry is fortified wine. However, it’s fortified after the fermentation, so unlike Port, all Sherry begins its life as a dry wine.

Sherry is initially classified as one of two wines: Fino or Olosoro. A Fino is intended to be a light, crisp, delicate wine even at its usual alcohol level of 15% or more. The great Finos are aged in barrel underneath a yeast film called ‘flor’ (or ‘flower’) which protects the wine from oxygen, adding flavours and aromas as well.

Great Finos have the tangy aroma of the ‘flor’ with its distinct almond character and aromas similar to mushroom and sometimes cheese rind. The Finos aged in the bodegas of the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda take on even more of the aromas of the ocean and are given the distinct name of ‘Manzanilla’.

Finos that eventually lose their ‘flor’ will be topped up, fortified to a higher level of alcohol (around 18 percent), and allowed to age into something called amontillado. Amontillado’s contain echoes of the character of the Fino from which they grew, but pecans, honey, caramel, toffee, nuts, dried fruits, and many other aromas and flavours begin to take over.

The other great category of Sherry is Oloroso. These are usually made sweet, although a handful of them are left dry. The term Oloroso can be loosely translated into something powerfully aromatic, and the long barrel ageing required for great Oloroso certainly gives it aromas, which might include toffee, walnuts, prunes, cherries, orange rind, spices, chocolate, and myriad other delectable, dessert-like characteristics.

Sherry is also defined by its ‘solera’ process of ageing. Solera is a system of graduated blending whereby a portion of Sherry is drawn from an old barrel, which is subsequently filled from a barrel of younger Sherry. Barrels of younger and younger Sherries cascade downward so that old and new Sherries are gently and systematically blended together.

The Do’s of Andalucía are:

DO Condado de Huelva – Read more….

DO Jerez-Manzanilla – Read more…

DO Málaga – Read more…

DO Montilla-Moriles – Read more…

DO Sierras de Málaga – Read more…

DO Ycoden Daute Isora – Read more…

Browse a range of sherry and wines from the Andalucía wine region for sale online at the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Duero River Valley

Duero River Valley

The Duero River Valley wine region is located in North Central Spain and encompasses the wine production area of Castilla y León based around the River Duero. This is the old seat of Spanish nobility when the Moors still controlled the southern portion of the country, and it extends as far northwest as the Bierzo (DO) and the beginning of the Green Spain wine region.

The Duero River travels 460 miles from high in the Sistema Ibérico and forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. It empties into the Atlantic ocean at Oporto, a town in Portugal that gives its name to a famous Portuguese fortified wine…. Port!

The table wines grown along the banks of the Duero River can be nearly as intense as Port, but are far more practical as drinking red wines. Roasted spring lamb on a BBQ of old-vine cuttings  is fantastic here, and the cold Atlantic seems far away in both climate and cuisine. Though many of the vineyards have only a gentle, round contour, the viticulture here is at high altitude: days are warm and can get hot, but nights are cold thus slowing down the ripening period. Consequently, the wines become rich and ripe, the less expensive ones destined for immediate, delicious drinking, whilst the top wines (Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Pesquera and many others) can last for decades.

The region’s success has seen vineyards expand, and now names such as Sardón del Duero, Arribes, Arlanza, Cigales and other satellite regions are garnering well-deserved attention. In the Cigales DO Rosé wine production has been the mainstay, however, the Tempranillo grape is having a greater impact on their reds now it would seem.

The Tempranillo grape performs extremely well in the DO wine region of Toro too, making powerful, even massive wines. On the other side of the Duero River, the Rueda DO has claimed its own international spotlight with the success of the white Verdejo grape. Here it is likened to (and occasionally blended with) Sauvignon Blanc, however it posses its own unique citrus aromas and pear texture and flavours.

The DO’s of the Duero River Valley wine region are:

DO Arlanza – Read more…

DO Arribes – Read more…

DO Cigales – Read more…

DO Ribera del Duero – Read more…

DO Rueda – Read more…

DO Tierra de León – Read more…

DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora – Read more…

DO Toro – Read more…

To buy wines online from the Duero River Valley wine region of Spain visit the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Green Spain

Green Spain Wine GuideThis region of Spain, exposed to the northern Atlantic, can be cold, wet, and green, hence its name, España Verde or ‘Green Spain’. The wine region stretches from Galicia on Spain’s northwest coast to a portion of northern Spain that includes the Txakoli DOs of the Basque Country. The regions of Ribeiro (DO), Ribeira Sacra (DO), and Valdeorras (DO) enjoy pockets of protection from the cool, sometimes cold, and often wet coastal influences.

Green Spain’s cool and misty climate dictates that wine producers focus on earlier-ripening grapes, especially white varieties. It is the aromatic grape varieties that prosper, with Albariño one of the most successful in international markets. Grown along the coast, or along the rivers that give Rias Baixas (‘lower fjords’) its name, Albariño is the dominant white grape variety producing styles that can vary from crisp and tangy to round and peachy.

As you move inland there are other white grape varieties that fill the vineyards; the rich and complex Godello grape rules in Valdeorras (the “valley of gold”, reflecting Rome’s interest in the place 2000 years ago). Godello, Treixadura and other varieties are grown in the regions of Monterrei and the picturesque DOs of Ribeiro and Ribeira Sacra.

Away from the coast temperatures rise and so red grape varieties are planted; the Mencia grape is arguably northwest Spain’s best red variety producing lip-smacking wines packed with raspberry tones and floral aromas.

Green Spain’s vineyards extend all the way to Basque Country, often backing into the Pyrenees or the Sierra Cantábrica, sheltering more famous wine regions such as Rioja.

The DO’s of Green Spain are:

DO Arabako Txakolina

DO Bierzo – Read more…

DO Bizkaiko Txakolina – Read more…

DO Getariako Txakolina – Read more…

DO Monterrei – Read more…

DO Rias Baixas – Read more…

DO Ribeira Sacra – Read more…

DO Ribeiro – Read more…

DO Valdeorras – Read more…

Shop for wines from Green Spain online at the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Ebro River Valley

The Ebro River Valley

Snaking between the Sierra de Cantábria mountains and the Sierra Demanda, the River Ebro and its tributaries have helped carve out vineyards that have been celebrated for at least two centuries.

Rioja DOC/DOCa is a wine region that has traditionally carried Spain’s reputation for high quality wine production and is made up of three sub-regions: Rioja Alavesa; Rioja Alta; and Rioja Baja. They each have distinct differences but any notion of a hierarchy between them is now somewhat misguided. As is the fashion with grapes too, for whilst the black Tempranillo is still king, Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carineña), Graciano and increasing numbers of other indigenous grapes are generating new ideas and styles in the region.

Rioja produces a collection of red, white and rosé wines, but it is the reds that account for the greater part of its fame. Ageing classifications have, until recently, been the primary means for separating one wine from another.

Rioja Joven (‘young’) wines are destined for early drinking and they often see little or no oak and are only aged for one to two years before release.

Rioja labelled as Crianza are aged for two years (one year in oak and one year in bottle) and are best suited for early or mid-term enjoyment.

Rioja Reserva wines are aged for three years, often one year in oak and two years in bottle; however there are producers who go above and beyond this requirement with their Reserva wines. Rioja Reserva wines can be age-worthy or offer serious immediate consumption.

Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been regarded as the region’s pinnacle; they are at least five years old (two years in oak barrel and three years in bottle) and are generally ready to drink. But they can age for years too; their long barrel ageing often renders them gentle and complex, rather than big and rich.

Whilst Rioja has often been seen as the traditional area of quality wine production nearby neighbour Navarra has generally been known for quantity. Navarra is a region historically renowned for its rosé wines made from the Garnacha grape, although it is now gaining popularity for quality driven red wines made from more fashionable international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

Farther south, Calatayud (DO), Campo de Borja (DO), and Cariñena (DO) provide a range of great value wine styles. To the east, vineyards are nestled along the base of the foothills of the Pyrenées, where the cool-climate region of Somontano (DO) can be found.

To buy a selection of carefully chosen wines from the Ebro River Valley wine region of Spain please visit our online wine shop and browse our great range of Rioja for sale online: Hic! Wine Shop

Wine By Region | Spain – The Islands of Spain

The Islands of Spain

Away from the Spanish mainland, Spain also has two wine producing groups of islands, the Balearic Islands and The Canaries. The Balearic Islands is a single province region consisting of the islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera as well as other small islands. The Region is located in the Mediterranean Sea, to the east of the Iberian Peninsula. The capital city is Palma de Mallorca. The area’s winemaking tradition is protected by two Designations of Origin: Binissalem-Mallorca and Pla i Llevant. Quality wines are also produced in small wineries on the islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca.

The Canary Islands is located off the north coast of Africa, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. This Autonomous Community includes seven main islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The islands remain phylloxera–free, and so grapes that may exist nowhere else still survive here and amongst which include: Listán Negro, Negramoll, Tintilla (red grapes) and Malvasía, Listán Blanco and Albillo (whites) among others.

Spain’s highest mountain is on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, and most of the island’s vineyards are grown on these fertile, volcanic soils. There are a number of DOs on these islands, and most are very interesting and certainly worth seeking out.

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year 2018

I’d just like to thank all our customers for their continued support during 2017 and hope that we can provide you with more soporific sauces again during the coming year!

We are always on hand to offer advice and if you are in need of any help in your selection process please do feel free to contact us directly and we’ll do our best to assist.

Best wishes

Andy @ Hic!

Winemaker Profiles: Rhebokskloof Wine Estate | Paarl, South Africa

Rhebokskloof News BannerRhebokskloof Wine Estate is a magnificent 600-hectare property spanning two lush valleys and lies at the foot of the Cape’s imposing Paarl Mountain. Dating from 1692, this historic estate was carved up into several smaller farms during the early 20th century, though recent owners have sought to reverse this. Rhebokskloof is now under the ownership of a group of wine-passionate South African business people with a vision, to restore it to its former glory. The project will see Rhebokskloof’s splendid Cape Dutch buildings refurbished to their former glory.

Rhebokskloof has an unique terroir, composed of decomposed granite from the hills surrounding the estate and the slopes of the famous Paarl Rock mountain. The estate is especially known for its Shiraz vineyards, but the rolling hills of vineyards surrounding Rhebokskloof produce various varietals, including Grenache, Mourvèdre, Pinotage, Viognier and Chardonnay.

Buy a selection of Rhebokskloof Wines Online at the Hic! Wine Shop:

Rhebokskloof Wines For Sale

Great Value Californian Wines from The Hobo Wine Co.

The Hobo Wine CompanyA great selection of Californian wines from The Hobo Wine Company have found their way onto the Hic! wine portfolio…..and they offer superb value for money too!

Based in Sonoma, The Hobo Wine Company is the the brainchild, side job, menace to the wine industry, hedged bet, cash strain, mental anguish, late night musing, bruised hands, dirty t-shirts and constant companion of Kenny Likitprakong, who despite knowing better started his own label in 2002 with the simple idea to have some good fun.

Kenny has a few different labels under his Hobo Wines brand as well as Ghostwriter in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he spent his formative winemaking years. This is a proper ghetto winery, brimming with energy and ideas – (skateboards on the walls alongside trophy bottles of JL Chave and Roumier).

Kenny is talented and self-effacing – a real, honest face of the new Californian wine scene, who imparts his extraordinary knowledge with ease and charm. He buys his fruit from all over the place and depicts the essence of each wine with eye-catching packaging that’s simply about great wine from great sites. There’s so much to enjoy with these wines – and at unbelievably good value for money. There’s no doubt about it, Kenny’s wines are extremely finely tuned, expressing a time and place that effortlessly capture the zeitgeist.

The current selection of wines to buy online from the Hic! wine shop can be found here: The Hobo Wine Company Wines For Sale

Astrolabe Wines from New Zealand available at Hic!

Astrolabe Wines For Sale Online

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of Astrolabe Wines to our New Zealand portfolio.

Astrolabe Wines was established in 1996 and is named after the ship that in 1827 charted and explored the Marlborough Coast of New Zealand. It is the personal project for winemaker Simon Waghorn and his wife Jane, and marks the culmination of a winemaking career for Simon that began back in 1982.

Simon and Jane have developed a range of distinctive wines that express the purity and intensity of fruit flavours naturally afforded by the climate and soils of the Marlborough wine region.

Astrolabe own 10 hectares and work with a number of growers scattered all over Marlborough, from Awatere Valley to the Kekerengu Coast and the Wairau Valley. Each site is chosen for the distinctive flavour it produces and the growers who work with Simon and Jane understand the rhythms of the land and know how to grow grapes that express the terroir.

Astrolabe also has a second label called Durvillea whose wines are made in a classic Marlborough style using parcels of fruit from the Astrolabe vineyards.

If you would like to find out more about Astrolabe Wines take a look at their website here: Official Astrolabe Wines Website

To view the range available to buy online either by the bottle, case, or as part of your own mixed case selection then visit the Hic! online wine shop here: Astrolabe Wines For Sale Online