Shannon Martinez wants you to take her Broadsheet Wine box to your next date night.
Martinez is the chef and owner of three of Melbourne’s best vegan eateries, Smith & Daughters, Smith & Deli and Lona Misa. Over the past eight years, Martinez has changed the way Australians perceive and enjoy plant-based food – with signature mock meats, produce-driven plates and dishes oozing with vegan cheese. At first, her clientele was almost exclusively vegetarians and vegans. Now, the majority are “flexitarians”.
“It’s a really exciting space to be in, because now we don’t just have one audience, we have all the audience,” she says.
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When Martinez first opened Smith & Daughters, her biggest challenge was curating a wine list that was vegan (vegan wines aren’t filtered with fish scales or dairy products). Her Spanish upbringing influences her wine preferences and she wanted to champion old-world wines, but she tells us many European producers “didn’t even know what the fucking word [vegan] meant”.
Eventually, she found the right makers, and Smith & Daughters now boasts plenty of 100 per cent vegan drops from Europe and the Middle East. The list mostly steers clear of natural wines, which Martinez isn’t a huge fan of – and she says they haven’t appealed to her customers in the past either. (For more on wine styles, check out this helpful guide.)
“There are enough natural-wine bars in Melbourne ... I really wanted to change it up a bit and give our customers something they might not be getting at other places.”
Now, Martinez brings her love of old-world wines to Broadsheet for the latest Broadsheet Wine box, which she also hopes will raise awareness about the accessibility of good vegan wine.
“There are a lot of companies out there … making the most of the new popularity of veganism by plastering the word ‘vegan’ on wine bottles. Some vegans who may not be all that used to wine, or not have much wine knowledge, may think those are the only wines they can have. But here in Australia, so many of our wines are vegan.”
The six wines included in her box are mostly European. Her favourite is the Bodegas Exopto RIoja Bozeto de Exopto, from Spain, which she calls the “perfect eating wine” (it pairs particularly well with barbeque). Unlike classic Aussie shiraz, this is a lighter variety that can be drunk all year round.
There are a couple surprises in the box, too. “The Yokel [Chenin Blanc] is probably the wine that is the most different for me,” says Martinez. “It’s not a total natural, [but] it is a low-intervention wine, so you’re still getting a few of the characteristics of a natural wine. That’s my wild card wine of the box, but it’s really delicious and something I’ll definitely be looking to drink more of or put on the wine list at Smith & Daughters.”
Martinez recommends cracking open this selection on your next date night (though it could turn into a “pretty messy date night by the sixth bottle”, she says). She is also the first Broadsheet Wine curator to include a dessert wine.
“It would be pretty sexy to end date night with the [Henriques & Henriques Rainwater Medium Dry 3 Year Old] dessert wine drizzled all over vanilla ice-cream. [Or have] a glass of it with an apple tatin. [With] this really soft, gorgeous dessert wine, that would be stunning.”
If you aren’t into sweet wines, use this wine to cook with. Take dishes to the next level by adding it to things such as whole button mushrooms doused in garlic and paprika.
“Food and wine are just the best of friends – you can’t have one without the other. Seeing as my life is 100 per cent focused on food, it’s only natural that wine comes second.”
The Shannon Martinez x Broadsheet Wine box is available in limited quantities for $160 until September 5.