Isn’t all wine vegan? Nope. Is there any vegan wine? Yes, there is. So you tell me not all wines are suitable for vegans, what about vegetarians? Even not all wines are suitable for vegetarians. Can you tell me more?
Why are not all wines are suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans?
As we all know, the majority of wines are made from grapes. Essentially wine is fermented grape juice. Yeasts, either natural or cultured, convert the grape juice sugars into alcohol. So far this all seems to be vegan-friendly.
However, most people do not like cloudy wines. They consider a cloudy wine to be faulty. All young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins, and phenolics. These are all natural and in no way harmful.
There is always an exception to this rule. Some producers even play with this “fault” and produce a cloudy wine. One of my most favorite wine is a cloud one (KalkundKiesel by Claus Preisinger). Wine producers have two ways to clarify their wine. First, over time the particles settle to the bottom of the tank or barrel. However, this can easily take a few months to years. Not many wines are meant to be aged for such a long time. Furthermore, wine producers need to materialize their wine production into money to make a living. Second, another option is using fining process, whereby fining agents are used to clarify the wine. The fining-agents act like a magnet – attracting the molecules around it. The coagulate around the fining-agent, creating fewer and larger particles, which can be easily removed.
Traditionally the most commonly used fining-agents are casein (milk protein), albumin (egg white), gelatin (animal protein), and isinglass (fish bladder protein). These fining agents are processing aids. They are not additives to the wine and do not need to be listed on the wine bottle.
All used fining-agents are not suitable for vegans. Albumin is suitable for vegetarians. However, the fining-agents do not need to be declared. It is almost impossible for consumers to find out what fining-agents are used by the wine producers.
What about those other wines?
Today, winemakers have other options as well. Some winemakers started to use clay-based fining agents such as bentonite. Activated charcoal is another vegan and a vegetarian-friendly agent used in modern winemaking.
In addition, the move to more natural winemaking methods, allowing nature to take its course, means more vegan and vegetarian-friendly wines. Producers often indicate non-filtered wines on the label with ‘not fined and/or not filtered’. But let’s face it, the wine industry is using the label Vegan wine only to classify and certify the methods used during the vinification in the cellar. My recommendations of wines to Vegetarians and Vegans are always focused on wines produce in harmony with nature. Biodynamic farming and low intervention in the cellar produce wines which are suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians without guilt.
White vegan wines *
2016, Kalkundkiesel, Claus Preisinger, Burgenland, Austria
2015, Coste, Danjou-Banessy, Roussillon, France
2013, Patchwork, Stéphane Tissot, Jura, France
2016, Les Pièces Longues, Mas del Périé, Sud-Ouest, France
Rose vegan wines *
2016, Rosé, Gut Oggau, Neusiedlersee, Austria
2016, Rosato, La Villana, Gradoli, VT, Italy
Red vegan wines *
2014, Morei, Foradori, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
2016, You Fuck My Wine?!, Mas del Périé, Sud-Ouest, France
2015, Arbois, Domaine des Cavarodes, Arbois, Jura, France
2014, Siccagno Terre Siciliane IGT, Occhipinti, Sicily, Italy
2013, Grosse Wanderlust, 2Naturkinder, Franken, Germany
feliciano.wine, is a Zurich based wine enthusiast focusing on natural and sustainable wines. He is a level 3 student of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). You can find his blog about natural wine on feliciano.wine.
*) This blog post is not a sponsored post. It reflects my honest opinion about the wines.