The Vegan Wine: Why Your Favorite Bottle May Not Be Vegan-Friendly

The vegans have clearly taken over. Just look around your local grocery stores and see how much the food selections have been catered to all the vegans of the world. However, no matter how vegan-friendly food items have begun, some animal products can still be found in the most unusual places. That’s why it’s still very challenging for many vegans to make sure what they’re putting in their shopping carts are actually for them.

One of the trickiest terrains for both vegans and vegetarians to go through is the world of wine. Yes, wines may be made from grapes and all these natural stuff used to make them are always vegan. Whether they’re natural or cultured, yeasts turn the grape juice sugars into alcohol. So far, this all seems vegan-friendly enough. But, as well know, wines go through a number of processes, making it possible for them to get in contact with animal products. So, the next time you consider getting wine gifts for your vegan friend, you need to do some research.

It’s in the ‘Fining’ Process

drinking wine

There are currently no laws in the U.S. about labeling wine ingredients. That said, it’s highly possible for animal byproducts to be included in the winemaking process without the buyers’ knowledge. For example, in order to reduce tannins, products such as casein – a type of milk protein – are used to work as fining agents towards the end of wine production. In addition, isinglass, a type of fish bladder that many vegans tend to avoid, is commonly used in white wines in order to get rid of particulate matter to make sure they get that extremely clear and bright appearance that many wine drinkers enjoy.

If left long enough, most types of wine are capable of both self-fining and self-stabilizing. However, traditional wine produces have used a variety of fining agents to maximize the process. Other than casein and isinglass, other commonly used fining agents include albumin (egg whites) and gelatin (animal protein). All these agents work similar to a magnet, attracting all those haze-inducing molecules for a higher-quality wine.

The fining process that uses albumin and casein is usually a more acceptable option for many vegans. However, all the ones are not due to the small traces of the fining agent that may possibly be absorbed into the drink during the fining process.

A Newer Approach Has Been Introduced

If you’re a vegan wine lover, here’s some good news for you. Many winemakers have now converted to using clay-based agents that are more vegan-friendly. Bentonite, for instance, is particularly effective in getting rid of unwanted proteins during the fining process. Another option available is activated charcoal.

Newer, more natural winemaking methods have also paved the way for more vegan and vegetarian-friendly wine options. Now, more wine producers all over the world have switched to letting nature take its course, leaving wines unfiltered and just waiting for them to self-stabilize and self-clarify in due time. To help buyers make the right choice, these wines are labeled ‘not fined and/or not filtered’.