If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of wine and wondered what it means to be vegan friendly, you’re not alone. You might ask why would wine not be vegan? We all know wine is essentially fermented grape juice so it’s understandable to presume that all wine is also vegan. Often, however, it isn’t.
Why would wine not be vegan?
This is all to do with the winemaking process. The short answer: A process called ‘fining’ which usually makes wine clear and taste less bitter. There are a few stages of wine production that require other ingredients to come into play. Ingredients not suitable for an animal free lifestyle. This is where the veganism concept gets a little blurry.
What is ‘fining’?
Young wines are cloudy in colour and contain tiny molecules of proteins, yeast and other organic particles. These are all natural and in no way harmful, however us wine-lovers like to drink our wine clear and bright and to achieve this the wine undergoes this process. Most wines, if left long enough, will settle on their own however this is a long and expensive process and fining agents help remove these particles quickly. This is particularly important for less expensive wines which need to come to market at a faster pace.
How does the fining process work?
A fining agent is added to the top of the vat, and as it sinks down, removes proteins, yeast and other organic particles from the wine. It’s important to note that none of the fining agents remain in the wine before it is bottled, but for vegans, of course this is not the point. Traditionally, fining agents are of animal origin, most notably gelatin, fish oil, egg whites, and until 1997 when it was banned, even blood. These days, a lot of winemakers use a clay-based finer called bentonite, or products based on vegetable such as peas and potatoes which gets the job done just as well.
Do vegan wines taste different?
The short answer is no. The choice of fining agent doesn’t affect the wine so you know you’ll be getting the quality of all your usual favourites.
How do I know my wine is vegan?
Wine, like most alcohol, doesn’t require a detailed list of ingredients so it’s not always easy to tell vegan wines apart. The rising interest in vegan wines in recent years has meant that most winemakers are labelling their wine vegan-friendly to emphasis the absence of animal based fining agents. As a general rule, you best bet is to check the back of the bottle as most wine vegan wines actively promote it on their label. Unfortunately, not all vegan wines are labelled however.
How can I find vegan wine on Winebuyers?
We’re here to help! The great news is that we have a vegan filter on our shop page. Selecting wines from this section means you can guarantee you’ll be able to buy vegan friendly wines you can knock back guilt-free. We have 734 vegan wines and 670 vegetarian wines, and even better, prices start from as little as £6.50 If you’re ever in doubt you can contact us directly and our in-house wine buffs will be on hand to help you out. We’re good like that. If you’re living a vegan lifestyle or perhaps just interested to try some vegan wines, check the shop to get you started, you can even filter by veggie food pairing. Pretty cool huh?