Why are some wines vegan-friendly and some not? Is 'vegan wine' just a gimmick? How do I know if animal products are present in my wine? How can I tell if a wine is truly vegan? If you're curious to know the facts and want to be informed ahead of your next wine purchase then read on.
Traces of animal products may well be present in your wine and the reason is simple: we all like our wine to look clear and not cloudy. All young wines are cloudy at the start and will self-stabilize with time, or to speed up the process, with a little help from the winemakers and a few animal-based products.
For centuries, wine producers have used fining agents that act as a magnet attracting all the tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins, and phenolics present in the wine and responsible for that murky appearance. They coagulate around the fining agent, which basically glues them together into larger particles, which can then be more easily removed.
These fining agents can be made of a milk protein (casein), egg whites, animal protein (gelatin) or even fish bladder protein (isinglass), also used as a fining agent for real ale. As these fining agents are only used as processing aids and are removed with the molecules, they are not considered to be additives. However, traces of these products may remain by being absorbed in the wine during the fining process.
The fining process does not differentiate between good and bad particles so it can have a negative impact on wine quality.
Does it say on the label if my wine is vegan?
Some wines now clearly state vegan-friendly. However, in France you might find some wines labelled "non-collé" and "non-filtré" meaning that this fining process has not been applied. These wines are also vegan-friendly.
Recently the trend has been for producers to move towards more natural winemaking processes and the number of vegan-friendly vineyards is growing fast. When you stay with us at Studio Vert, there are a number of local vegan organic wines you can indulge in. Here are our top picks in France:
Pierre Vidal, Zero Pointe, Côtes du Rhône
Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes, John Wine, Côtes du Roussillon - Blend Grenache Syrah
Gérard Bertrand, Naturae Syrah (rosé)