What is Vegan wine?
So, what is vegan wine? This is a question that we get asked very often. With the rise of Veganism in the UK, we thought we’d try to explain. It would be easy to think that all wine is Vegan. Isn’t it just made from fruit – grapes? While the production of wine is the picking, pressing and the fermentation of grapes, there are certain wine-making techniques that can turn a Vegan friendly wine, into a wine that vegans would not drink.
How does a wine become non-Vegan?
So how does a wine become non-vegan during the wine-making process? It all comes down to the fining/filtering agents that are used to bring more clarity to the wine. During the process there are certain molecules that are produced which cause wines to be hazy/cloudy to the eye. These can be tannins, phenolics and tartrates. These molecules are all natural by-products of the wine-making process and are completely harmless to consume. However who wants to drink a cloudy wine? In a world where aesthetics really matter, winemakers know that they can’t ship their wine without extracting these molecules using fining agents.
A lot of the fining agents that were traditionally used contained animal products. Whether its egg whites (known as albumin) commonly used in the production of red wine. Or a milk protein (known as casein) commonly used in the production of white wine, this process makes wine non-vegan.
So wine has animal products in it?
Once the fining process has been complete, the agents used are removed. So whether that’s the egg whites or the milk protein, once they’ve done their job they are removed from the finished product. However due to the nature of wine, tiny traces of the animal products can be absorbed, thus making it non-vegan. It’s important to remember that the likes of albumin and casein are processing agents and not additives to the wine, so they may not be clearly listed on the label.
The future of production
Now, with the rise of Veganism along with a desire for organic and biodynamic wine. Winemakers are taking a more natural approach. If wines are left to naturally develop, they will usually self-fine, reducing the need to introduce animal products into the process. For the wines that don’t self-fine, there are alternative fining agents available for winemakers, including clay based methods.
36 South African boutique Vegan wines to choose from
Here at Sippers and Spitters we work with a lot of independent winemakers who have always believed in allowing the natural process to do its job. Which is why we have 36 Vegan-friendly wines to choose from. Ranging from Chenin Blanc to Viognier in white wines and Cabernet Franc to Shiraz/Syrah in red wines.
Browse our boutique Vegan wine selection in our SHOP
If you want to know more about Veganism, head to the Vegan Society Website.