What makes a wine vegan?

What makes a wine vegan?

Have you seen the Vegan logo on a bottle of wine and thought, ‘What the? Aren’t all wines vegan?’ 

It’s an interesting topic and pretty speedy to explain.

Most wines look like hazy dishwater when you first make them: the juice will be filled with harmless particles which naturally occur during fermentation. There’s nothing wrong with drinking a cloudy wine, but most wine makers like to remove the sediment to make a crystal clear beverage.
It is in this filtering process that wines can become non vegan.

Many of the fining agents that were traditionally used contained animal products.
🥚 Egg whites
🥛 Milk protein
🐟 Fish bladders
By putting egg whites into your murky wine, the sedmiment is naturally attracted to it and sticks to it. You then scoop the egg whites out of the tank and voila - sediment free! Same applies to milk protein and fish guts

***Interesting titbit alert*** It is because of the use of egg whites in traditional wine making in France that tasty pastries and madeleine cakes were produced in abundance. The eggs yolks were free to a good home! 🥐 

Vegan wines are made without animal products, so winemakers either leave the particles to sink naturally to the bottom of the wine, or use non-animal fining products usually bentonite, a form of clay or pea protein

Or you can simply filter the wine through some filter paper – like pouring it through a coffee filter. This is the most common way of filtering nowadays.

As well as wines labelled as ‘vegan’, you could also look for wines that are ‘unfined or unfiltered’. These will still contain the natural sediment, some winemakers are very passionate that by removing this sediment you are stripping away much of the nuanced character of the wine.

Other animal products used in wine production may include beeswax (used to seal bottles) and agglomerated corks (which use milk-based glues)

Most wines produced today are in fact vegan, but they don’t always specify it on the label. Best ask your lovely local wine merchant or check on the producers website