What makes a wine Vegan?

What makes a wine Vegan?

There are a lot of reasons that people are choosing to go vegan these days. It’s been shown in numerous studies that eating mess meat is better for your health, the planet, and your wallets. Ahead of National Vegan Day on November 1st we take a look at all things vegan wine.

What’s often overlooked is the fact that not all wines are vegan friendly. We make sure that every one of our wines is demarcated as vegan if it is made in a vegan way (as well as vegetarian, organic, and sustainable) to make the choices easier for people. Ultimately if we research a wine and cannot see a reason why it is vegan, we assume it isn’t until we have confirmation otherwise.

But what makes a wine vegan? Isn’t it all just fermented grapes?

Up to a point, yes, but the method by which we make a wine clear (as opposed to hazy and cloudy) is called “fining” and this is where a winemaker might use animal products. It’s common practise for a number of reasons – the main one being that we as humans tend to have an aversion to drinking cloudy or hazy drinks. This is probably something in our monkey brain to keep us safe when potable water wasn’t the basic right we take advantage of now, but it’s certainly a hangover from days gone by in wine terms.

The most common is isinglass, or fish bladder, but winemakers can also use gelatin, albumen, or casein (a protein from milk often found in hard cheeses.) In very basic terms (for we are not scientists…) the dead yeast cells left over from the fermentation process combine with the proteins from these fining agents and fall to the bottom of the barrel or tank or what have you, taking with them all the impurities that can be found in wine, leaving behind the clear lovely juice ready for the next step.

A wine can be made vegan with the elimination of this fining stage (but it will kick up a sediment) and these would be our “low intervention” wines or natural wines. But, as you’ll know if you’ve had a bottle of vegan wine from us, most vegan wine is clear! This is achieved with bentonite clay, activated charcoal, silica gel or pea protein, and they pretty much behave in the same way as the non-vegan agents. Vegan wines do not taste different to non-vegan wines, the taste lies in the grape after all, not in the filtering process.

Wine-makers can make it painfully hard to find out whether their wines are vegan or not, which is why we do all the hard work for you. Some wines have got a little vegan-friendly stamp on them, but sadly most don’t. However, a safe bet if you’re not buying a wine from us (but please do!!) is to look for these on the label – “non-filtre” (for French wines), “sins-filtrar” (for Spanish wines) or “non-filtrato” (for Italian wines).

So go forth and drink vegan wine!! Nearly all of our wines have a perfect pairing which can be adapted to veganism (though some vegetables are just incredibly hard to get a reliable wine pairing for…) but it’s all about experimenting and finding your groove!


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