If you eat vegan, then you know the importance of checking labels for even the simplest of products. It's common knowledge that alcohol in wine comes from grape juice sugars and yeast. So, it should be safe, right? Unfortunately, there are winemaking practices that are not vegan or even vegetarian.
Not All Wines are Vegan
Winemakers remove small molecules of phenolics, tannins, tartrates, and proteins through a process called fining. This fining process allows the wine to look bright and clear.
Most wine will stabilize on its own if you leave it alone long enough. However, producers use fining agents to speed up the removal process. The agents work by attracting particles like a magnet, forcing them to come together and create larger substances that are easy to remove.
The typical fining agents are:
Some of these agents are acceptable to vegetarians. Although most of the fining agent will come out after the molecule-removal process, there may be traces left over. With these traces of animal-derived processing aids, many wine drinks are not made for vegans.
Fortunately, many wine producers are transitioning to vegan-appropriate winemaking methods. For example, there are clay-based substances that can remove unwanted particles such as bentonite clay. Other options free of animal parts are activated charcoal, carbon, and plant casein. (1)
Other vegan wine options are not filtered by wineries at all. With the natural method, a winemaker will allow sediment and cloudiness to settle on its own. You'll notice these bottles in stores labeled with terms such as "not filtered" or "not fined."
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How Can You Tell Which Wines are Vegan-Friendly?
Winemakers do not often label their drinks as "free of animal products," so it can be hard to tell what you can drink. United States law does not require companies to have an ingredient list for all things used in the production process. However, some people are seeking to alter these labeling laws.
Some companies have made their products the same way for centuries, not thinking to deviate from their current processing methods. If you call a winery asking for a vegan option, they may meet you with a confused look.
You may find a brand or company that lists all of the ingredients, but these are not common. Your best bet is to search for organic options that do not use animal byproducts such as gelatin or swim bladder. You may also have luck going into a wine store and asking a knowledgeable sommelier these questions.
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Yes, veggie wines do exist. However, finding vegan wine is not as easy as it seems. The issue is that the winemaking process often includes animal-derived fining agents such as blood and bone marrow and swim bladders.
Vegans should search for a bottle that uses natural ways to filter impurities. Or, you can look for beverages that have not undergone any filtering processes at all.
According to the Peta website, "Most regular wine/liquor stores will order vegan wines upon request."(2) Some online companies that sell wine for vegans include:
There are several answers to this question. Unfortunately, most brands don't include this information on the label. One method is to look for unrefined or kosher beverages. These will be free of animal proteins and additives.
Two sources to go to for a list of wine appropriate for a vegan diet are Barnivore and BevVeg. Or, you can find one company that definitely produces vegan wine and use them for all your red and white wines.
No. As of 2019, Barefoot uses products from animals in their clarification steps, including cow milk and eggs. The company states that these articles are generally removed with filtration. But, to remain safe, Barnivore labels these products as not vegan.
Is Wine Vegan - Final Answer
For a beverage made from farming grapes, one would expect this question to be a no-brainer. Sadly, wine-loving vegans face difficulty finding appropriate wine without the use of any animal product. Fortunately, many companies around the world are setting a goal to do better.
Many consumers, whether vegan or not, are searching for natural food and drink. Shortly, a number of companies will surely use natural fining practices to appeal to more consumers.
Marangon, M., Vincenzi, S., & Curioni, A. (2019). Wine Fining with Plant Proteins. Molecules, 24(11), 2186. doi:10.3390/molecules24112186
Is wine vegan? (2020, April 15). Retrieved August 08, 2020, from https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/is-wine-vegan/