Cleaning Up

A few weeks ago Cameron Diaz launched a ‘clean’ wine brand called Avaline. In this video she talks about how she was shocked to learn most wines are full of additives (they’re not) and not suitable for vegans (most are). My favourite bit (and honestly, I can’t stop watching it) is when she and co-founder Katherine Power talk about how grapes are picked and put straight into barrels and they’re not even washed. (They really don’t need to be washed). Here’s the thing: I love Cameron Diaz. Or rather, I loved her in The Holiday and as Mary in that other film. And if she’s launched an organic wine brand and is selling it for more than it’s probably worth then good for her. What I don’t like is claiming a wine is clean whilst others are ‘full of additives’ because that’s simply not true. In fact, it’s a dirty lie. Wine is mostly water (sorry), alcohol and other naturally occurring stuff like acids, phenols (tannins), sugar and sulphur (a natural byproduct of fermentation). Winemakers can use additives in small doses if they need to for things like fermentation, fining or stabilising wine but their use is regulated, not to mention safe. The most dangerous part about wine – whether organic, natural or normal – is the alcohol. Even Cameron’s got that in hers.

If you want to know more about what’s actually in your wine I talked to one of my favourite wine nerds Dr Jamie Goode about it last week. Watch it here over on my IGTV and apologies in advance for the terrible first few minutes. Must get better at that bit.

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Current white in the fridge: Bel Campo Fiano

Price: £8.50 - Buy From Marks and Spencer

This glorious white is made from grapes grown in Puglia, down in Italy’s heel. It’s absolutely delicious (think mango with a twist of honeysuckle), is suitable vegans and it’s made using sustainable organic farming methods. Gorgeous label, too. Try it with roast chicken. Twiglets work too.

Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Saint Chinian

Price: £9.00 - Buy From Tesco

This is a southern French cocktail of grapes including Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and the resulting blend is gently spicy, a touch earthy (in a good way – think rosemary and smoke) and has got buckets of black fruit flavours. Just add hot dogs.


  • Simon Heape
    3 years ago

    On a slight tangent I bought some Sainsbury’s Finest Saint Chinian ‘17 and largely forgot about it. Opened a bottle at the WE and it’s really developed, no longer fresh but now well pronounced bacon fat notes. Flippin’ lovely for the money!

    • Helen McGinn
      3 years ago

      Love it when that happens!

  • Pat Temple
    3 years ago

    Excellent explanation of the ‘clean’ wine claim. Really helpful.

    • Helen McGinn
      3 years ago

      Thank you! Glad it helped…cheers!

  • Jeff Smith
    3 years ago

    Well done ! At last , thank you for “calling” this nonsense ( not the word I was tempted to use) in regard to “clean” wines – sans” sulphites “ etc.c etc. . However, sadly, this snobbery is not confined to film stars or even national Presidents)

    • Helen McGinn
      3 years ago

      Sadly not! So much confusion around the subject and marketing a wine as clean definitely doesn’t help!

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