As interest in vegan and vegetarian diets grows, our customers at Vinarius often ask which wines are suitable for these two types of regime.
In general, there is a bit of a misconception about vegan wines and how they are produced. Also, it is a very technical subject, which can clash with the approach of some philosophies, such as veganism.
First of all we need to make clear that wine can only be obtained from the fermentation of fresh grape juice (also called must) and no animal product is present (or should be present) in any bottle.
After fermentation the new wine is a hazy mixture of different things, including small solid particles such as yeasts, proteins and tannins. Although all these compounds are natural and harmless for humans, they may cause imbalances and sediments in the bottle, especially for wines that need to be consumed relatively young. That’s why most winemakers choose to clarify their wine.
This process is called fining, which is often done with the help of some fining agents, including casein (milk protein), albumen (egg whites) and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder). Any such agent is entirely removed from the wine after the clarification. To be precise, the fining agent is not an ingredient of the wine itself and there is only a temporary contact between the product(s) from animal sources and the wine during the fining process. But the use of these products is not always acceptable to vegetarians and vegans.
Nowadays, many producers, especially organic and biodynamic winemakers, are choosing not to clarify or filter their wine or they use vegan-friendly agents such as bentonite (a clay-based product) or pea flour.
However, not all vegan wines are certified as such because the certification is a further cost with lots of extra paperwork for the producers, usually with minimal marketing benefits. At Vinarius we work very closely with the wine producers and we know exactly which wine is vegan and which one is not. So if you are looking for a bottle of wine suitable for vegetarians or vegans ask your trusted Wine Merchant!