If you’re a vegan, or you’re thinking about turning vegan, there are so many things you have to think about in order to live a vegan life. And who would have thought, of all the worries you already have to contend with, that wine would be one of them.
But wine is not always vegan-friendly, because unfortunately, some wines are processed using milk protein (casein), isinglass (fish bladder protein), egg whites (albumin) and even gelatine (animal protein). Egg whites, milk and gelatine you’ll have heard of, but isinglass?
Isinglass is a substance that is obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish and is used in the fining process of some wines. Yup. Fish bladders.
The problems arise because the rules and regulations that are getting stricter around food labelling, don’t apply to alcohol, so you don’t always know if your wine is vegan-friendly or not.
But help is at hand, and if you aren’t sure, you can always check out our selection of vegan wines. We clearly label each one so you can see at a glance if it’s vegan or not.
Can vegans drink wine?
Yes, vegans can drink wine, however, vegans should be aware of the ways in which wine is made, because some winemakers, in order to speed up the winemaking process, undertake what is known as the ‘fining process’.
The fining process is when the winemaker adds a substance to the wine, the fining agent, such as eggs, milk, fish bladders or gelatine, in order to speed up the removal of unwanted particles in the wine, before it is consumed.
This process will happen naturally, if the wine is left for long enough, however, large winemakers don’t have time on their side, and so look for the cheapest option to clarify their wine as quickly as possible.
The great news is that with the widespread knowledge of these practices and the request by consumers for a more inclusive (vegan-friendly) approach to winemaking, a large number of winemakers have ceased using animal-derived products when making their wine, instead opting for a clay-based mineral called bentonite instead, or activated charcoal.
Wines suitable for vegans
So what wines are suitable for vegans? The answer is plenty. If you are a red drinker, you’re in luck, as are you if you’re a white drinker, a rose or an orange sipper.
As a starter for ten (or twelve):
- Chateau Fontainebleau Ma Cuvée Blanc 2017
- Arndorfer Riesling, Handcrafted, 2017
- Painted Wolf Pictus V Limited Release 2016
- Cantina Orsogna Civitas Pecorino 2018
- Bodegas Menade Sauvignon Blanc 2018
- Staffelter Hof Little Bastard 2017
- Luddite Chenin Blanc 2014
- Ciello Rosso Nero d’Avola 2018
- Viniterra Serie Malbec 2017
- Hugh Hamilton Jim Jim Shiraz 2015
- Slobodne Eggstasy of Wine Alpinist 2017
- Magula Oranzovy Vlk Orange Wolf 2016
If none of these take your fancy, have a browse through our selection. We have provided information for you, above each wine, that will tell you if it is vegan or not. Cheers.
Why all wines aren’t vegan
You’d have thought that what with wine being essentially grape juice, that it would be vegan-friendly. However, the reason not all wines are vegan, as mentioned above, is simply down to the fining process.
You see all young wines, even the most expensive ones, need to be clarified before they can be quaffed. All young wines have tiny particles in them, particles such as proteins, tannins and tartrates, things that are natural to the wine and therefore not harmful, but they prevent the wine from being the clarified, clear and bright delight we all know and love to sip.
And so in order to give us what we ‘want’, the winemakers make use of fining products. One point to note, be they vegan or animal-derived products, fining agents don’t alter the taste of the wine one dot. They are simply there to clarify the wine.
However, the wine will naturally clarify the longer you leave it. All the sediment will slowly float to the bottom of the bottle and unless you shake it, you won’t consume it.
But large scale winemakers just don’t have time to wait for the proverbial dust to settle, hence their use of fining agents.
The fining agents work by acting as a magnet to all the particles in the wine and attract them together, causing them to bind in a large lump and fall to the bottom of the barrel or bottle, allowing them to be removed quickly.
Fining isn’t sexy, and it isn’t necessary, so if, like us, you like your wine natural and untampered with, opt to drink the best vegan wine. After all, we have 215 to choose from.