On a day to day basis I’d say I was pretty healthy when it comes to food, I also go to the gym (sporadically sometimes) and have just started yoga. I did had a goji berry phase, but after getting a bit addicted and spending over £25 a week on the brightly-coloured snack I decided to part ways with the antioxidant.
My downfall is that I drink. A lot of wine. It’s kind of my job so it’s pretty necessary. Given the choice of booze out there I’m pretty sure that a glass of wine is a better choice than a Malibu and coke, (yes that includes diet coke) a pint of beer or a sickly sweet cocktail. And why? Because nowadays you can buy natural, organic and on the whole better quality wines. Plus grapes are good for you, right..?
The term ‘Natural Wine’ doesn’t actually have any legal requirements or boundaries but the idea is to create a wine using as little chemical intervention as possible, this includes little or no sulphites, which many people attribute to headaches. Although sometimes it’s more the fact that you had the whole bottle on an empty stomach that’s causing your sore head the next morning..
With the horse meat scandal still fresh in our minds (and selected beef products..) it’s never been more crucial to know where your food/drink is coming from and exactly what’s in it. Sulphites are a big problem for many people, often people say it gives them headaches or even worse hangovers. It’s fair to say that a £5 bottle of wine is going to have more chemicals in it than a £10 one. What are these sulphites doing in our wine? Well, they actually occur naturally in wine during fermentation and help to prevent bacteria in the wine. The truth is, sulphites aren’t actually bad, I think there’s a lot of confusion between sulphites and sulphates, the latter being a very nasty chemical and the similar sounding words often get mixed up. An interesting fact is that dried fruits contain a huge amount of sulphites. You can carry out a little experiment by eating a whole bag of dried apricots and see if you start to get a headache or not.
If you think you do have an allergy to sulphites then your best bet is to source natural wines, the great thing is that they’re much easier to get your hands on nowadays – there are plenty of online merchants, smaller independent shops on the high street and markets selling these wines. If the wine is Organic, it should state it on the bottle, if in doubt don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve also noticed restaurants are keen to have Organic wines on their wine lists, it’ll be worth spending the extra money to have a ‘cleaner’ wine. Bars too are jumping on this positive band wagon, Timeout have complied a list of the best places to go au naturel, click here.
There is something to note with these wines, if they are free of sulphites and any preservatives they do need to be drunk sooner rather than later, the reason being for a wine to age it actually needs these additions to keep it from turning to vinegar. If you buy natural or Organic – don’t hide it away in a cupboard and expect it to have aged nicely, drink it quick. If you can’t find these wines in your local supermarket but still want to buy better quality wines my tip is to not buy the mass produced Blossom Hill, Echo Falls type brands and look more carefully on the shelves for less obvious wines. Spending an extra £3 will get you a much better wine.
If you still struggle with the red-wine-headaches, try swapping your chunky Aussie Shiraz and look for lighter old world styles such as Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Loire reds (typically 11-13%ABV).
Organic wines are cropping up all over town. I recently found a new wine shop on Broadway Market, it’s called Noble Fine Liquor and it focuses on natural wines and local craft beers (something for him and her).
They’ve got a great selection, bottles starting at around £8/9, a very slick interior and friendly (and knowledgable) staff. They even do wine tastings on selected nights during the week, I highly recommend a visit.
Another favourite place of mine is Oui Madame in Stoke Newington, a very chic Parisian restaurant with a simple yet very tasty daily menu (£23 for three courses) and all the wines on the list are Organic. And it’s on my doorstep, I’m a very lucky girl. This rich Rhône red was absolute perfection with steak and dauphinoise. I may have had a Pernod to start. Merci beaucoup Madame.
I was lucky enough to try a selection of Sainsbury’s new SO Organic range, the Pinot Grigio was packed with flavour, big words from a as-oaky-as-possible-Chardonnay fan. And only £6.99, what’s not to love? The reds were very impressive too, I was pleasantly surprised.
My advice, go mad and spend the extra couple of quid and buy some Organic or natural wine and see what you think, you never know, it might change your whole wine perspective.