Vegan Winemaking, Why Go Vegan Wine?

We all love wine.  Who doesn’t?   But sometimes the process of certifying which wines are sourced from cruelty-free means can be a bit confusing, so let’s dive right in and see if we can’t shed a little bit of light on this confusing topic.

At a glance, wine would seem to be a vegan-friendly option right out of the gate.  It’s only bottled fermented grapes, after all.  But because some standardized wine-creation processes are actually not vegan-friendly, and wine certification hasn’t yet caught up to the best practices of the vegan-friendly governing bodies, the necessity exists that you do your due diligence yourself.

During the fermentation process, bits of sediment are left behind.  A freshly-produced wine will subsequently be cloudy.  This, as many wine aficionados know, is an undesirable characteristic.  Wine-drinkers prefer their beverage to be clear, with no haziness.  In order to achieve this, winemakers use a process of clarification.

During wine clarification, fragments of dead yeast, grape skin, stalks and pieces of sedimented material are filtered out and are removed.  The process of removing of these sediments and undesirable bits and pieces is called “fining”.

This process is specifically where the problematic aspects come in for vegans.  The fining agents used, such as casein, which is a milk protein, albumin, which is made of egg-whites, gelatin, an animal protein, and isinglass (a fish bladder protein) are all animal byproducts.

This is a problem for vegans because it introduces the possibility that trace amounts of these processing agents may be introduced to the wine at the molecular level.

In order to make good vegan-friendly alternatives, we need to try another approach.

To be confident that your vegan wine is actually vegan-friendly, you need to target your search to look specifically for those wines which have been fined using vegan-friendly means.  Vegan-friendly wines utilize modern technological advancements which allow for the clarification of cloudy, sedimented wine by means other than animal products.

This means using a clay-based fining agent such as bentonite, a clay generated from volcanic ash, or activated charcoal, a porous processed carbon.  Alternately, you may opt instead for a wine that has not been fined by any means.  This is acceptable, as over time, the sediment will sink to the bottom anyways, self-clarifying the wine without the need for any processing agent at all.

Finding a vegan wine is greatly simplified when you know what to look for.  Search for wines that have been clarified using a mineral or clay-based agent, or search for those wines with a label that says “not fined” or “not filtered”.