Wine is among the best things in the world that get better and improve with age. Springing from 4000-4500 BC, this alcoholic beverage has a great history known for its intoxicating effect on the human body. So, as a selective community, vegans would also be interested in learning if wine is a suitable drink for them.
Vegans can drink wine if the particular content of that wine is purely vegan-friendly by not using any animal product, by its fining process. Most of the wine involves animal by-products during its clarification process, while some kinds of wine do not use this procedure. Hence, let us look into some insights into what vegans should know when drinking wine, how they need to choose a vegan wine, and many more things.
Can Vegans Drink Wine?
Consumption of wine isn’t something which started recently. In fact, the history of wine runs back to the old days- 4000-6000 BC. According to a study conducted in 2018, it has been proven that moderate amounts of wine have a connection with cancer prevention. Thus, many people around the world are fanatics of this taste-hardly-explained beverage.
In fact, vegans can drink wine as long as no animal-based product is used in its fining or filtration process. Let’s have a look in detail at the wine production and how the fining process is done.
Wine production happens under these stages:
- After being plucked, ripe grapes are mashed and crushed.
- Then, fermentation starts to enable sugar to convert into alcohol.
- After that, the extract is purified and transferred into barrels.
- The filtration is the next step. This step is usually done but not mandatory.
- Finally, the wine is either bottled directly or barrel-aged.
At a glance, you may see that no animal or animal products are involved in any of these steps. But, one thing that most of you are unaware of, that wine-makers use various animal-derived products during the filtration step. This procedure is known as the “fining” of wine. As grapes are crushed, parts of the skin, stems, and seeds can all make their approach into the press and the grape juice. These supplements could create repulsive residue in the wine. This can produce an undesired taste to it, usually astringency or sourness. Hence, the fining method enables the wine-makers to filter the wine from these unwanted aggregates, fine-tuning the flavor and fixing any imperfection. Most- in fact, a majority of the mass and small-scale wine-makers use animal derivatives during the so-called fining step. These animal-based products include:
- Gelatine- This is usually derived from animal collagen.
- Casein- Casein is a protein discovered in milk. When used for wine filtration, it is typically obtained from milk. But, this can also be taken from various materials and tends to be utilized to clarify some sherries and white wine.
- Isinglass- This is the gelatin from the fish bladder membranes.
- Chitin- Chitin is basically obtained from the shells of arthropodae, such as prawns.
- Albumin (Egg whites)
- Bone marrow
- Fish oil
Thus, due to the animal by-products used during the fining process of wine, certain wines can be categorized as non-vegan friendly. However, there are wines that are clarified using products that can be one hundred percent vegan. We will be discussing that later in this article.
What Is Vegan Wine?
With veganism gaining popularity all over the world, mainstream wine-makers got more enthusiastic about doing wine fining in a more vegan-friendly manner. As a result, plenty of wine is now available in the market filtered by using non-animal-based products. Some examples of these vegan-friendly fining agents are as follows:
- Vegetable plaques
- Bentonite clay
- Silica gel
- Kaolin clay
- Plant casein
- Potatoe-based protein
- Pea protein
Moreover, we can see that there is a rising interest in biodynamic and organic wines. Biodynamic wines are produced using biodynamic techniques both to grow the fruit and throughout the post-harvest processing. This production employs organic farming methods like using compost as fertilizer and evading most pesticides.
Also, wines can be fine on their own. And several brands empower them to do this without the application of fining agents.
If you would like to learn about how vegans get protein, we have an article with details here.
What Is Vegan Wine Made Of?
The answer to this topic is relatively straightforward, as we have discussed it through the sections earlier. As we have stated on top, none of the steps except fining involves animals or animal by-products. In fact, the key ingredient in winemaking is grapes, which are solidly vegan. Therefore, wine becomes purely vegan-friendly when clay-based or non- animal-based fining agents are used in the clarification process. In addition, it has now become the new trend of large-scale wine-makers to allow the wine to self-fine. Plus, some wines are organic or biodynamic, so they undoubtedly become vegan. In a nutshell, vegan wine is made by not using any animal-based products in any process.
Can Vegans Drink Red Wine?
Red wine is indeed a true dainty around the world. It is a type of wine produced from dark-colored grape kinds. The real color of the wine can range from deep violet, the standard of fresh wines, into brick red for aged wines and brown for older red wines.
Red wines usually have more intense tannins than white wines. Tannins are naturally happening elements that survive inside grape seeds, stems, and skins.
However, vegans can enjoy this strong-flavoring beverage if conditions are right for them. That is, if the particular bottle of wine ensures that none of the animal-based products are used in fining, they are vegan-friendly.
What Wines Are Vegan-Friendly?
So, as we discussed throughout this article, wines align with veganism when non-animal-based products are employed during the clarification or fining process. In general, when clay-based or non-animal-based products are involved in fining, those wines are certainly vegan-friendly.
How Can You Tell If Wine Is Vegan?
Generally speaking, you will not usually see the ingredients on the label of the wine bottle that we have listed above, as used in fining process. So, the most simple way to know if a particular bottle of wine is vegan or not when purchasing from the shop is to check the label on it as “Unfiltered” or “Unfined”. Some bottles of wine have vegan-friendly credentials, while some don’t. Therefore, it is always a better approach to verify with the bartender.
Furthermore, some organic and biodynamic wines could have used animal by-products in fining. So, if the label does not clearly mention about being vegan, do check with the manufacturer. If you are planning to purchase online or need to find information about a specific brand of wine, there are sites you can use which mention if the wines are vegan-friendly or not.
Wine has been the best companion of many people, especially during their happy hour. However, as you read above, the primary ingredient used in winemaking is solidly vegan, and it is its fining process makes it non-vegan. Therefore, many vegans may have had the problem of selecting a suitable wine and knowing if all wines sit well with veganism or not. So we hope we have provided you with sufficient information regarding all your wine problems.