With an increasing number of people adopting a vegan diet in the UK in recent years, the question “what is vegan wine?” has become more popular. So here at Pure wines, we decided to make an effort to explain it.
It is quite fair to believe that all wine must be vegan. After all, it’s a drink made from crushed and fermented grapes! Although made completely from fruit, the wine itself may convert a vegan-friendly blend into one that vegans would want to avoid utilising the vineyard’s production techniques.
How do you create a wine that isn’t vegan?
So, when does a wine become non-vegan throughout the winemaking process? It all comes down to the fining agents used to clarify the wine.
Fermentation is the magical stage in the process of converting the natural sugars in grapes into alcohol. First, the fruit juice is poured into a fermentation tank where yeast is grown. The yeast starts a sugar reaction, which results in wine at the end. At this stage, molecules may appear in the wine, giving it a hazy appearance. These compounds may be phenolics, tartrates, or tannins (if this is red wine).
All of these chemicals are natural products of the winemaking process and are completely safe for humans to consume. However, there’s nothing wrong with sipping a foggy wine. However, winemakers use recipes to create unique blends and these can only be accomplished by extracting the molecules using fining agents.
Previously used fining chemicals often included animal components. For example, historically, red wine was made from egg whites (albumin), while white wine was made from milk protein (known as casein).
Is there any animal products in every bottle of wine?
The agents used are removed after the fining process is completed. When egg whites or milk protein have served their purpose, they are removed from the final product. However, due to the nature of the wine, tiny quantities of animal protein may be absorbed, so the wine becomes non-vegan. It is important to remember that albumin and casein are more like processing agents than wine additives. Sadly not every winemaker included directly the information on the label of the bottle.
Producing real organic wines
With the rise of vegetarianism and the increased demand for organic and biodynamic wines, winemakers across the globe are taking note and adopting a more natural approach. When wines are allowed to develop completely organically, they are usually self-finished, reducing the need to include animal ingredients. In addition, other fining agents, such as clay methods, are available to winemakers for wines that are not auto-fined.
While it is not common practice for winemakers to disclose the fining agents used in their production (whether clay, egg white, or milk protein), wine may contain no fining agent (and is therefore vegan), if you’re searching for a vegan-friendly bottle, the term “Unfiltered” may appear on the label to signify that the wine was made without the use of fining agents.
In general, it may be difficult to tell whether a wine is vegan just by looking at the label. Whether in doubt, always turn to the producer, as he will make it clear on his website if his wines are vegan. Alternatively, you can go straight to the good stuff by visiting our Vegan Wine section on our website.
With a wide variety of vegan wines available to be purchase.
At Pure Wines, we work with many independent winemakers around the world who believe in the natural process by creating the most delicious vegan-friendly wines. Red, White, Orange, Rosé, Petnat and others. Here you will also find wine promotions, wine monthly subscriptions and mixed wine boxes.