January, and the near year that it brings has long been the month of resolutions, frugality and abstaining. In recent years has become the month where people give up alcohol, after maybe indulging too much over Christmas, or let’s be honest this year for the entire lock-down. There are other variations on the genre Veganuary has started to become increasingly popular as has a plant based diet. Always looking to accommodate our customers this is for those who are more interested in a Vegan January than a dry January. We have a range of vegan wines in store and thought a little blog informing and educating about vegan wine would come in handy for those who are trying to be vegan this month and those who are committed to a veganism all year round.
Given that wine is the product of grapes and yeast you may assume that all wines would be appropriate for vegans (people who do not consume any kind of animal product) but this isn’t always the case. There are some traditional fining agents that can make a wine unsuitable for vegans. Traditional fining agents can include egg whites, fish, or casein - a protein found in milk. These products are used to remove tiny particles of sediment in a wine that cannot be removed by filtration.
So what is vegan wine?
With many people now turning to a vegan or to a vegetarian diet these traditional fining agents are becoming less popular and other ways of fining the wine are becoming more common. Some vegan wine is natural wine that has not been fined or filtered, they leave the particles to sink naturally to the bottom of the wine when it is aging before bottling either in tank, barrel or another vessel. But for winemakers using the fining process, it will have been fined using non-animal substances such as clay or charcoal instead of animal products. There are a number of different fining agents that can be used which are vegan and much more natural. The most common ones are, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, silica gel, and pea gelatine.
Leaving wine to clarify naturally takes longer and relies on gravity to settle the sediment at the bottom of the barrels or other storage vessels so that the clear wine can be carefully removed and bottled. Wine needs to be aged for a couple of years before it is clear enough to be bottled without any filtration/fining. This approach can mean the wine isn’t as clear as when fining agents are used; although you could argue this is wine in its truest state as nothing has been added or taken away. This means that thousands of wines are vegan just because of the way they are made, especially from smaller producers who do not have the resources to invest or choose not to invest in filtering and fining wines so rely on a slower process.
Does vegan wine taste differently? In short, the answer is absolutely not! In fact, you’ve probably drunk a lot of vegan wine without realising. You will likely find good and bad examples as you would with any wine. Some people do not always like vegan wine that has not been fined as they don’t like the sediment, however like most things in life it comes down to personal taste and preference.
Some of our favourite Vegan wines!