Vegan Wine, Feelin' Fine
What is Vegan Friendly :
Many winemakers are now making wines that happen to be Vegan Friendly, which is now more than just a ‘thing!’ The rise and rise of veganism has now seeped into food and wine as more and more consumers who question what they put down their throats have more options. But what actually is Vegan Friendly mean when it comes to winemaking?
What Makes a Wine so Fine?
Many people would probably be surprised to learn that their wines have any animal products in them at all. Yet, it’s at the final part of winemaking called The Fining where this occurs. Fining is the polishing and presentation if you like, the bit where a wine gets its final buff and preen before being consigned to bottle.
Wines prior to bottling contain a number of unsightly molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenols, and the job of the fining is to eradicate these unwanted nasties so the wine is as seamless as possible. The fining agent’s job is to grab onto the molecules and then they are removed from the finished wines.
So What Makes a Wine Vegan?
Have you ever seen the back label declare “may contain traces of animal products” and wonder what that means? It’s basically a mention of products used to make a wine glisten in the glass. Strangely, the best products that help wine appear clean and clear are dairy based derivatives such as egg white (albumin), milk (casein) and animal proteins (gelatine).
In contemporary winemaking, it has become increasingly normal to see the words 'Vegan Friendly' on labels, meaning it has not seen any of the dairy based products mentioned to finish a wine.
Vegan Alternatives for Fining to Ensure it's Fine for Drinking:
To combat the use of animal products, winemakers have a fair few vegan friendly options in their arsenal. There are several common fining agents used as alternatives, such as Carbon, bentonite clay and limestone - these all replicate the other more traditional agents but are all happily vegan friendly. If you are concerned a wine may have traces of animal products, look out for the VF symbol on the label and you can be assured, it is going to be completely fine to drink.