In order for food and drinks to be considered vegan, they can not be derived from animals or processed using any animal products. Since wine is made from grapes, you would think that wine is vegan, right? Well, this isn't always the case.
Why is wine not vegan?
During the beginning of the wine making process, wine is fermented and yeast turns the grape juice sugar into alcohol. But during the final process, the winemaker may use some additives derived from animals.
In order to make the wine appear clear and bright, tiny molecules like proteins and tannins must be removed. This process of clarifying the wine is called 'fining.' Most wines will self-fine without needing any added ingredients. However, producers do sometimes use 'fining agents' to help push the process along smoothly. Finding agents work like a magnet, attracting the tiny molecules to them, making them easier to strain out later in the process. Learn more about fining and the process of wine making here.
The reason that all wine is not vegan is because these fining agents are derived from animals. The ones that are used most commonly are:
- casein (a milk protein)
- albumin (egg whites)
- gelatin (animal protein) and
- isinglass (fish bladder protein)
These fining agents are removed later on, so you will not be drinking them, but because they are used in the process of making wine, it is not considered a vegan product. Vegan wine is generally ok for vegetarians to drink, but vegans do not consume any animal products whatsoever.
What brands of wine are vegan?
Not all companies use animal derived fining agents. There are vegan friendly wine options that use carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, plant casein, silica gel, and kaolin clay instead. Here is list of the best vegan wine:
- Hedges Red Mountain Blend
- Illahe Pinot Noir
- Honoro Organic Vera Monastrell
- Danaus Red
- Fattoria Poggerino Labirinto
How do I know if my wine is vegan? Is Pinot Grigio vegan? Is Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc vegan?
If your wine does not specify on the bottle that it is vegan, then it's not vegan. If you're unsure about your wine, then you can study the label on your bottle. Most mainstream wines are not vegan, however some brands like Sutter Home do have vegan-friendly options.
Interested in learning more about wine? Check out our other blogs:
Chinese food and wine - A surprisingly delicious pair!