Shocking news: not all wines are vegan, despite being made of fermented grapes. So before you pour yourself another glass of vino thinking that you’re on the right track to veganism and saving the world, allow us to educate you about what vegan wine is all about.
While it is true that the main ingredients of wine are grapes, the non-vegan part of it comes into play during the “fining” process. Winemaking is a long process, and time is money. Younger wines have harsh tannins, and the fining process using animal products help give the wines a smoother taste. The fining process also helps correct the colour, flavour, and cloudiness of the wines, while also helping to stabilise wines that have not had time to clarify itself naturally over time.
According to PETA, some of these animal products include: “blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).”
Other than the animal products used in fining wine, some vegans may have other concerns when it comes to producing the grapes that are used in the wines. For example, the animal products used in the farming process. Some farms may use animal-derived fertilisers such as bones from dead livestock or fish emulsion from fish waste.
But don’t despair — vegans are not relegated to just expensive, aged wine when they want a spot of vino. There are many other optional ingredients that can be used in the fining process to produce vegan wine, such as clay and carbon-based fining agents.
So, how would one know how to identify a bottle of vegan wine? Check the label behind. While most non-vegan-friendly wines don’t mention if they used animal-based fining agents, vegan wines actively promote it on their label. Alternatively, you can check out Barnivore for a comprehensive list of vegan wine brands. Or, you can scroll down to see six brands that produce vegan wine.