Most wines are processed with non-vegan clarifying agents (such as egg whites). There are however, a few wines that are vegan and you can learn what to look for.
Why is Most Wine Not Vegan?
Isn’t wine, afterall, just made with grapes?
Most wines are clarified during winemaking with a process called “fining” which most frequently employs the use of animal-based products such as casein (a protein from milk) or egg whites. If wines aren’t fined, most would look hazy. This is where the casein and egg-whites come in. The fining agents “glomb” onto the proteins dissolved in the wine and cause them to precipitate out and collect at the bottom of the tank. The result is a crystal clear wine.
- It’s common for quality white, rosé and sparkling wines use isinglass (a fish byproduct) for fining
- It’s common for red wines use egg whites or casein for fining to remove bitter-tasting phenolics
- Old-world wineries used to use ox-blood to fine wine, but this no longer common today
- Fining agents are removed before wine is bottled
How to find vegan winesVegan wines are uncommon, but they do exist. Wherever winemakers are practicing minimalist intervention in the cellar, is where you’ll most likely find wines that are unfined and unfiltered. Remember to check with the winery or importer to be sure.
Here are some useful tips on vegan wines:
- Wines that are unfined and unfiltered are vegan
- Wines filtered only with sterile filters (ceramic filters) or cross-flow filters are vegan. Be sure to check with the producer
- Several mass-produced wineries use sterile filters instead of animal products
- Some wineries use bentonite to fine protein from white wines instead of isinglass
- Biodynamic wines can be made in a vegan way when they are unfined but since the farming process uses animal bones (for special compost mixtures) it negates this.