Many wine drinkers are surprised to learn that not every bottle is suitable for vegans – wine is made from grapes, isn’t it?
More people than ever are seeking out plant-based food at mealtimes, whether it’s to reduce their environmental impact or improve their health. It’s no surprise, then, that wine drinkers are looking to ensure that the liquid in their glass is vegan-friendly too. It would be understandable if you assumed all wine to be vegan, seeing as it is made from pressed and fermented grapes. However, the production methods used in the winery can lead to a wine being unsuitable for vegans.
Historically, many producers have used animal products – from egg whites and casein (derived from milk), to isinglass (fish bladders) and gelatin (made by boiling pig skin). Wines that have been fined with the latter two would also not be considered vegetarian.
These substances probably sound off-putting, but the good news is they are completely removed before the wine is bottled. In spite of this, the use of animal derivatives in the production process means that certain wines cannot be considered vegan.
However, there are alternative fining agents, and these are used increasingly by winemakers all over the world. Bentonite (a type of clay) is one of the most popular.
Some producers avoid the fining process all together. You may see terms such as ‘unfined’ on the label to indicate this.
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of the wine in your glass, it is also worth looking out for the terms ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ on the bottle (certified organic or sustainable wines must be made to a publicly stated standard). Please note that these wines won’t automatically be vegan.
Does vegan wine taste different?
This one is easy to answer – no! There are no fundamental differences in taste between vegan and non-vegan wines. The grape variety used is the primary factor that creates a wine’s flavour, but other considerations such as where the grapes were grown and the use of oak ageing are also important influences.
Some of our Vegan wines