What Is Vegan Wine? Here’s Why Your Favourite Tipple Might Not Be Vegan
With the exception of well-read wine enthusiasts, the overall production and, in particular, the clarification process of wine is wrapped in a thick veil of mystery for most consumers.
But following the rise of biodynamic wine products, organic wine brands, and the natural wine movement, conscious consumers have started to take a closer look, perhaps for the first time ever, at what exactly goes into the production of their favourite wines — and the growing vegan demographic is leading the charge.
When diving into the research, both seasoned vegans and those new to a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet might be surprised to learn that wine is not always vegan.
On top of that, many wine manufacturers often fail to clearly disclose what ingredients have been used throughout the clarification stage of production, meaning that consumers striving to adopt a 100% cruelty-free way of life are left struggling when it comes to picking their next addition to their cabinet.
So, what’s a vegan wine enthusiast to do?
While you might want to double-check the handy vegan directory Barnivore to ensure your pick is as cruelty-free as it can be, it’s best to be fully informed on what animal-derived ingredients may be hiding behind the bottle first, so you can start putting together a list of go-to winemakers guaranteed to cater to your needs!
The animal products to watch out for in wine
So, what exactly makes wine not vegan?
While you won’t find animal ingredients in the final product, many red wines, white wines, and rosés will be made using animal products during the clarification process.
Clarification, or “fining”, has become an essential stage in today’s wine production, turning the somewhat cloudy liquid derived from grape fermentation into a marketable product that is crystal clear in appearance.
In order to make the wine as clear as we are used to seeing, fining agents are introduced into the fermented substance to extract the molecules that are making it cloudy. Traditionally, these fining agents have always been animal products, and while innovative manufacturers are slowly phasing out non-vegan ingredients from the clarification process, a sizable majority of winemakers will incorporate at least one animal-derived agent into the procedure.
When it comes to red wine, egg whites (also known as albumin) are the preferred and traditional choice of fining agent, while white wines will often be clarified with milk protein, also known as casein. Other non-vegan ingredients such as gelatin and isinglass (fish bladders) are also frequently employed to remove all sediments, before being taken out to create the clear product we all know and love.
So, while you won’t find more than a few traces of casein, albumin, isinglass, and gelatin into commercial bottled wines, the process used to create them has likely involved these animal products during the clarification stage, making wines that are not labeled as vegan unsuitable for a cruelty-free lifestyle.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your precious glass of wine altogether!
How can you tell if a wine is vegan?
Committed vegans or consumers who are trying to slowly cut out all animal products from their diet can still enjoy their wine by choosing fully vegan wine brands or wines that are clearly labeled vegan and completely transparent about what their manufacturing process entails.
Nowadays, you can find several fining agents that don’t contain any animal products, such as silica gel, kaolin clay, bentonite clay, and carbon (charcoal), all just as effective as their non-vegan counterparts when it comes to clarifying and stabilising wine.
On top of that, proponents of the natural wine movement are slowly moving away from the fining process, believing in crafting the most natural product possible to retain wine’s authentic flavour and consistency.
If you want to make sure your wine is vegan, look for the product of your choice on the helpful alcohol directories Barnivore and BeVeg, or alternatively, opt for purchasing high-quality, organic wine from fully vegan and vegan-friendly wine brands.
Uncompromisingly vegan wine through every step of the process
If you’re looking for the perfect vegan wine to accompany your plant-based dinner menu and easily leave even the fussiest wine aficionados impressed, you should look no further than our growing selection of vegan wines.
Featuring certified organic vegan wine brands showcasing all the best that Italy has to offer, our vegan wine collection is guaranteed to fit everyone’s tastes and have you coming back for more.
We know that following a vegan lifestyle can already be demanding enough, so we’ve made your shopping that much easier — you can now get vegan wine delivered straight to your door, with absolutely no hassle, no hours of research, and no hidden animal products!