If you have been interested to hear about Veganuary or wanted to learn more about veganism, you might want to start by learning about vegan wines!
What is Vegan Wine
Vegans exclude all animal products including meat, eggs and dairy products. Vegan wine is simply wine that has been produced without using any animal products. Some wines are not vegan will use animal products in the fining process, to remove impurities. Whilst these are not left in the wine that we drink, they will leave some residue behind, making them unsuitable for vegans.
The Winemaking Process
Wine is made by harvesting, crushing and pressing grapes to extract the juice. Sugar and yeast are used to ferment the juice, producing alcohol. The base wines undergo a fining process to remove any impurities and then the wine will be aged or bottled ready for sale. It is the fining process that introduces animal products into the wine. You can learn more about how wine is made in our blog post on the subject.
What Animal Products are Used in Wine?
The fining process binds together the impurities in the wine so that they can be removed. Some of the most common fining agents include:
- Egg whites (sometimes known as albumen)
- Gelatine (made from boiling animal parts)
- Isinglass (gelatine fish bladder)
- Casein (milk protein)
- Chitin (fiber from crustacean shells)
- Fish oil
- Blood and bone marrow
Alternative fining agents that are vegan include carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques.
How to Tell If a Wine is Vegan or Vegetarian-Friendly
Many labels for wine do not include their ingredients or the ‘suitable for vegetarians/vegans’ label that you would expect to find on other groceries. Some wines will be labelled ‘unfiltered’ or ‘unfined’, so these will usually be vegan. One of the best ways to get hold of vegan wine is to ask for help at a wine store or even a supermarket. The staff will usually have a good knowledge of which winemakers do not use animal products when making wine. Online wine merchants often have a section for vegan wine so that you can be sure you’re buying what you need.
Have you ever tried the vegan diet? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear your thoughts!