Wine is made from grapes, of course it is already vegetarian! Wrong, that does not necessarily make it even vegetarian or vegan. What is a vegan wine? Are all wines vegan? If not, why not?
Did you know that some winemaking methods make use of animal-derived products? It is indeed surprising, but nothing new to write home about.
Essentially wine is fermented grape juice. Yeasts, either natural or cultured, convert grape juice sugars into alcohol and voilà. It all sounds quite vegan-friendly right? Some may assume that all wines would be adequate for vegans, but this is not always the case. Let’s discover vegan wine.
Why Not All Wines Are Vegan
The reason not all wines can be considered vegan or vegetarian-friendly is related to how wine is made. Generally, young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules such as proteins, tannins and phenolics. These particles are natural and in no way harmful; however, most people prefer their wines clear and bright. This is why wine must be clarified and go through a ‘fining’ process. Most wines, if left long enough, will self-stabilize and self-fine but the process is not fast enough for market standards.
Fining agents help precipitate out the haze-inducing molecules and speed up clarification. In other words, the fining agents are used to bind and remove unwanted substances. The fining agents attract substances creating particles that will be then filtered out.
Traditionally, most common fining agents are casein (milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein), chitosan (crustacean shells). These fining agents are not additives to the wine, as they are precipitated out along with the haze molecules. However, tiny traces of them may be absorbed into the wine during the whole process, which is why wines usually are not strictly vegan.
What Makes a Wine Vegan?
According to the UK’s leading wine specialist, Majestic Wine, defined vegan wine as those that have not been fined, filtered or come into contact with animal- or dairy-derived sources. Essentially, even wines that have been fined with only vegetable-based products can still be considered vegan.
Although many wines are vegan friendly, it is difficult to tell. There are no regulations in neither the EU nor the US requiring wineries to list fining agents on labels.
Learning How to Tell If a Wine is Vegan
If the ingredients are not listed, how is a wine drinker able to know whether a wine is vegan friendly? Asking for vegan-friendly wines will be met with confused stares and answers even in wine stores. Given the rather recent introduction of vegan wine in the mainstream wine culture, most people do not know what it is. But there is hope.
These days, in major metropolitan areas, there is an increasing number of wine stores that specialize in natural wines. Moreover, the media and wine industry are taking note of every natural product. Biodynamic, organic and vegan wines are all included in this new trend. As natural winemaking gains more market traction, progress in this approach will get noticeable.
There is one way to know if a wine is vegan friendly until labeling wine as vegan wine becomes standard. Sometimes, any fining agents that are potential allergens must be declared on the back label, even if they are not listed as fining agents. If you spot any of the aforementioned fining agents, then you have a non-vegan wine. For all other cases, try to buy wine from winemakers or wine stores that specialize in naturally made wine (no additives). By doing so, you’ll have a higher chance of coming across a vegan wine.
Choose VenToSpain for Your Next Wine Experience
If you have never tasted Spanish wines before, it is never too late to give them a try. Are you curious about Spanish wines? Check out our international wine line VenToSpain. Put your next wine collection of VenToSpain to the test! Do not miss out on discovering what VenToSpain has in store for you.
VenToSpain is now available in the US at restaurants, gas stations and other points of sale. Dine at Entre Tapas Restaurant or delight your palate at Madrid Tapas y Vinos. These both restaurants boast authentic high-quality Spanish fare in addition to featuring our wines. You can also drop by A&G Mini Mart at Chevron Doral 2498 NW 87th Ave, Miami, FL 33172, Chevron Miami Beach at 401 71st St, Miami Beach, FL 33141, and Mobile Sunny Isles at Collins 18300 to get VenToSpain. Do not miss out on a wonderful Spanish wine experience.
Sources: www.thekitchn.com, www.decanter.com, www.noted.co.nz