Most wines are not vegan, which can be a devastating surprise. After all, isn’t wine just fermented grapes?
On the contrary, animal products often play a role in winemaking processes. Fining agents like gelatin and isinglass are added to the wine barrel to remove impurities and yeast left over from fermentation. Although these fining agents are eventually removed, the process itself makes the wine non-vegan.
Fortunately, some winemakers are opting for vegan-friendly fining agents like silica, kaolin, and activated charcoal instead of animal products. Unpinned wines can also offer vegans a chance to soak up. We are going to drink at that.
Look for a vegan label. Because labeling laws in the United States do not require winemakers to disclose their ingredients, it is nearly impossible to verify from the back of a bottle whether your wine has been filtered through original products. animal. Instead of looking for what you don’t want, look for a wine with a label announcing its vegan status.
Why most wines are not vegan
Most commercially produced wines go through two separate filtration processes. The first round of fine (or clarifier) removes “cloudiness” – a floating sediment made up of yeast and other tiny particles too small to be filtered manually. The second round removes all bacteria and sterilizes the wine for consumption before bottling.
In the first step, winemakers add fining agents – non-vegan animal products like gelatin, chitin, isinglass, fish oil, albumin, and casein – to the wine barrel. Here’s how each product is defined:
- Gelatin encompasses proteins produced by collagen in the skin, bones and connective tissues that are boiled and hydrolyzed in cattle, chickens, pigs and fish.
- Chitin is the long chain polymer found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects, molluscs, cephalopods, fish and amphibians.
- Isingglass is a form of collagen made from the dried swim bladders of fish.
- Fish oil is a source of fat or oil from fish tissue.
- Albumin is the clear liquid inside an egg (egg white).
- Casein is the protein found in the milk of mammals.
The small particles attach themselves to the fining agent, making it easier to filter the sediment out of the wine, removing what is unwanted while leaving the taste relatively intact.
Animal products have also appeared in the wine as part of the cork; the adhesive was historically made from gelatin or casein, although now most corks use polyurethane. Ancient and contemporary wines sometimes use beeswax to seal jars or bottles, although today you’re more likely to come across a seal of paraffin (a petroleum derivative), if applicable.
These traditional winemaking techniques make most wines unsuitable for vegans. Plus, it’s often difficult to know exactly what’s in your wine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency responsible for food safety and nutrition labeling, does not regulate alcohol, it is the jurisdiction of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ( TTB). In order to see true transparency in labeling like we do with FDA regulated foods and beverages, TTB should require all alcohol producers to disclose all of their ingredients, which it does not.
Currently, the only labeling requirement for wine is the Sulphite Declaration, which aims to alert sensitive consumers to this preservative.
When is wine vegan?
Vegan wine falls into two broad categories. The first is a wine made with fining agents suitable for vegans like bentonite clay, activated carbon and silica. The second is the wine which is without fine, which means it has been filtered without the use of sizing agents.
Unfinished wine allows the alcohol to age or settle for a period of time, so that the yeast particles naturally accumulate at the bottom of the barrel under the force of gravity. The wine is then racked and the clear wine is siphoned into a new cask, leaving unwanted sediment at the bottom of the previous cask. (This can often result in a more expensive bottle than wines that have undergone the fining process.)
Either way, vegan wines are likely to be labeled as such because their unique processing is a selling point for customers. As vegans are a growing demographic, more and more wineries are letting their customers know that their product is safe to drink.
Vegan wine labels
Keep an eye out for “V”, “vegan”, “vegan” or other vegan symbols on the wine bottle indicating its vegan status. You can also search your favorites on Barnivore or search for a bottle with BeVeg or Vegan Wines certifications.
Another option is to look for a kosher wine label. Kosher wines cannot contain animal by-products like isinglass, casein or gelatin, which means they are often suitable for vegans as well. Check with the manufacturer to confirm that your next bottle of kosher wine is also vegan.
Types of vegan wine
Wine can vary from vegan to non-vegan with vintage and variety, even from the same vineyard. Companies such as Sutter Home, Berringer, Cupcake, and Yellowtail, for example, offer vegan and non-vegan wines. Be sure to check the label for a vegan designation, or do your research on vegan bottles before shopping. Alternatively, you can choose from one of those wine companies that exclusively supply vegan wines.
- Bellissima Prosecco
- Frey vineyards
- Diaper Cake
- Moët & Chandon / Dom Perignon
- Natura wines
- Red Truck Wines
Types of non-vegan wine
For many vegans, it’s disappointing to learn that your favorite brand isn’t just grapes and yeast. While the list is not exhaustive, these top-selling brands regularly use traditional methods of bonding animal products.
- Black Box
- Carlo Rossi
- Robert Mondavi / Woodbridge
- Gallo / Valley of the Twins
Can vegans drink wine?
Yes, if this wine is labeled vegan. It is important to note that the majority of commercially produced wines are not vegan as they have been processed from animal products.
How do you know if a wine is vegan?
Your best bet for ensuring that your wine is vegan is to look for a bottle or brand that is designated “vegan”. This category of wines has exploded in recent years, so expect to see more and more vegan wines on the market.
What percentage of wine is vegan?
Although a precise number is difficult to determine because there is no regulated definition in the industry, only a small percentage of wines are vegan. The majority of commercially produced wines are not vegan.
However, in recent years the demand for organic, natural and vegan wines has increased. The overall percentage of vegan wines is likely to adjust in line with the overall increase in veganism.
What are the animal products in wine?
Gelatin, isinglass (from fish bladders) and casein (from milk) are some of the animal products often used in the filtration process.
What is the difference between vegan wine and normal wine?
The substances used during the fining process of winemaking determine its vegan status. If a wine uses traditional animal fining agents, it is not vegan.
Regarding taste, although different fining agents target different compounds, colors and flavors for each particular wine, there is no discernible difference in taste between vegan and non-vegan wine.