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Vegan Wine

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | July 01, 2011

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products, and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as wine. Vegan wine is wine that is made using no animal-derived ingredients. Winemakers, both organic and non-organic, often use animal-derived products in the fining process to clarify the wine. Trace amounts of the fining agent may remain in the finished wine. Vegan Wine does not usually have a special label. Sometimes a wine label may be marked as suitable for vegans, but it is rare to find this.

Wines that are acceptable for vegans must use earth–based fining agents such as bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth, carbon, and kaolin (similar to bentonite). The problem is that the fining agents are not listed on the label, and you will have to do some research to determine which agents are used. There are many choices for vegan wines, it is just that they are not marketed as vegan. Winemakers can change their fining agents from one year to the next so an acceptable wine in one vintage might not be suitable in the next. You may have to contact the winemaker or exporter to retrieve this information. An easier solution to finding a Vegan Wine is to look for “unfined” (no clarifying agent has been used) wines. This should be much easier to find because it should be noted on the label.

Kosher wines may be an option for vegans. Again it will take research on the winemaking process because kosher gelatin, sometimes used as the fining agent, can be made with fish bones and the skins of beef or pork. But because the products are not real flesh and have gone through major changes to make it kosher, it is considered not to be meat. Some wines are processed using egg whites or casein, an egg by-product, which means they are suitable for vegetarians but not vegans. Typically white wines use these processing aids. Vegetarian wine is wine that has been made without the use of additives which required animals to be killed. The use of eggs and dairy processing products is acceptable for a wine to be suitable for vegetarians, but not acceptable for vegans. Organic wine is also not necessarily acceptable to vegans. Organic wine is produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides but there are no requirements with regards to the use of animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan wines either don’t use fining agents at all (unfined) or they use vegan fining agents. Some vegan fining agents are:

  • bentonite clay
  • carbon
  • diatomaceous earth
  • kaolin

The fining agent acts as a magnet and collects the unwanted matter in the wines. Some non-vegan fining agents are:

  • blood
  • casein (milk protein)
  • chitin/chitosan (derived from the shells of crabs or lobsters)
  • egg albumin
  • egg whites
  • gelatin (derived from bones)
  • isinglass (derived from fish)

How to Find Vegan Wines

Besides looking for the word “vegan” on the wine bottle label and looking for the words “unfined” or “unfiltered” you can also look online for a Vegan Wine Guide. Multiple site exist that usually have large lists of wines suitable for vegans.

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