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How Does Vegan Wine Taste?

vegan red wine

You may be wondering why wine isn’t already vegan already - it’s just grapes and yeast, right? Pretty much - but some parts of the process involves the use of animal products.

Vegan products have been known to taste different to regular products - take vegan bacon for example. However, does the same apply to wine?

Keep reading to learn more about vegan wine, and more importantly, to find out how vegan wine tastes.

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What Is Vegan Wine?

In simple terms, vegan wine is wine that hasn’t touched animal products.

Many vintners will use animal products at a later stage of the winemaking process - but before we delve into the fining process, let’s start with the fermentation process.

Fermentation happens in the early stages of the winemaking process. It’s the stage where yeast is added to the grapes, and the yeast consumes the natural sugars in the grapes.

This process produces heat, bubbles, and of course, alcohol.

This is an integral part of the winemaking process, but it can leave the wine with sediment floating around and looking cloudy or hazy.

The sediment floating around is often phenolics or tartrates, and if it’s a red wine, the sediment could also be tannins.

These floating molecules are completely natural and won’t cause any harm, but many vintners and consumers prefer their wine to be clear and smooth.

This is why many vintners choose to put the wine through the fining process.

The fining process is where the animal products may get added. Fining agents are used to filter the wine to ensure the wine is clear and smooth, as well as to eliminate unwanted textures, aromas, and flavours.

Many fining agents include animal products, which makes a wine non-vegan. Some animal products used may include fish oil, fish bladder gelatin, bone marrow, milk proteins, egg whites, and chitin (crustacean shell polymer).

The fining agents are removed (evaporated or filtered) once the fining process is complete, but a trace of the animal product may still remain.

This makes the wine unsuitable for vegans and even vegetarians.

Vegan wine and plant-based wine is wine that hasn’t come into contact with any animal products.

Many vegan vintners will use alternative fining agents such as pea gelatine, silica gel, silica clay, or kaolin (clay mineral).

However, some vegan or organic vintners won’t put the wine through the fining process at all.


What About Unfined Wine?

Unfined wine is simply wine that hasn’t been through the fining process.

Many people prefer unfined wine as it is a more natural option, and people believe that unfined wine has stronger flavours and textures in comparison to commercial wines.

However, some people prefer wine that has been through the fining process, as it is clearer and has a milder flavour.

Some people are also put off by the sediment or tannins you may find floating in the wine.

The sediment will always drop to the bottom of the barrel in time, but allowing the wine to fine naturally can elongate the winemaking process as the job is down to gravity.

This can take years of sitting in barrels for the wine to clear enough to be sold in supermarkets.

Wine that hasn’t been fined is pretty much always suitable for vegans - the fining process is where wine usually becomes non-vegan.


How Does Vegan Wine Taste?

It’s a common misconception that vegan products taste worse than regular products. Although this may be the case in very few instances (e.g some vegan hams), it’s certainly not the case for vegan wine.

Nobody should have to settle for a poor-tasting wine just because they’re making cruelty-free or healthier choices - and the good news is that you don’t have to.

Vegan wine tastes the same as regular wine - the animal products used in the fining process are filtered away or evaporated, and have no impact on the overall taste of the wine.

It is made in the same way as regular wine, with the only difference being in the type of fining agents used - and regardless of whether the fining agents include fish bladder gelatin or clay mineral, the overall product will taste the exact same.

In fact, you’ve probably enjoyed vegan wine without even realising it - many vintners and wine manufacturers won’t advertise the fact that a wine is vegan on the labels.

However, you may notice a small difference if you opt for a wine that hasn’t been through the fining process.

Unfined wine often has stronger and more nuanced flavours that are often more suitable for more seasoned wine drinkers.


Why Choose Vegan Wine?

More and more people are making vegan choices, are bars, restaurants, and food providers are taking note and providing more vegan options, including vegan wine.

But why are more people going vegan? There are countless reasons that people opt for a vegan diet, but the main ones include the environment, animal cruelty, and health.

More people are opening their eyes to global warming and environmental concerns, and the animal farming industry is one of the leading polluters on the planet.

Feeding, storing, transporting, and killing livestock on a global scale requires an exceptional amount of energy and land.

To accommodate the demand, acres of forest are cut down every minute. This not only kills our planet’s forests but means that greenhouse gases aren’t getting absorbed.

Animal cruelty is one of the core reasons that people opt for a vegan diet. Historically, we would hunt animals for food - it was a necessity.

In 2021, our survival doesn’t depend on eating meat, and animal products are used for very unnecessary purposes - for example, as fining agents in wine.

People opt for a vegan diet as they don’t believe that animals should suffer for such trivial things.

Many vegan wines are unfiltered and organic - both of which contain a variety of healthy bacteria that’s good for your gut as well as your weight and metabolism.

Organic vintners won’t use chemical herbicides and pesticides on their grapes or chemical fertilizers on the soil - which is less likely to cause any health problems, provided that you drink in moderation.

Organic wines also contain higher resveratrol levels, which has an array of health benefits.


How Do I Know Which Wine Is Vegan?

As previously mentioned, many wine manufacturers and vintners won’t include the fact that the wine is vegan on the label, which can make it difficult for vegans and vegetarians to know which wines are suitable for them.

However, in 2021, more and more supermarkets are introducing vegan sections and adding vegan labels to their vegan produce.

Some terms to look out for when looking for a vegan-friendly bottle of wine include ‘non-filtre’ (for French wines), ‘sins-filtrar’ (for Spanish wines), or ‘non-filtrato’ (for Italian wines).

This means that the wine hasn’t been through the fining process, so you know for sure that it hasn’t been in contact with animal products.

Many vegan wines are also organic, so you could look for wines that have ‘organic’ on the label.

However, just because a wine hasn’t been filtered doesn’t mean that the wine is organic - the grapes could have been grown in a non-organic vineyard with chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

One of the best things you can do is search the wine producer on the internet before purchasing or asking in vegan community groups (e.g Facebook groups or Quora).

Instead of wandering the aisles in your local supermarket, try ordering quality vegan wine online!

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