What is Vegan Wine?
Wine is just fermented grapes, right? Well, you may be surprised to know that most wine isn’t actually vegan.
The animal-farming industry has negative effects on our health and our planet, so there are more and more vegan options becoming available - vegan wines being one of them.
Vegan wine is tasty, healthy (in moderation), and a great alternative to regular wine. Keep reading to learn more about vegan wine, how vegan wine is different to regular wine, and the benefits of vegan wine.
What Is Vegan Wine?
Vegan wine is wine that has no animal products in it at all and hasn’t touched any animal products.
Most people assume that wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians due to the fact it’s simply grapes and yeast, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Vegan wine is made in the same way as regular wine - the only exception happens in the fining process.
Chances are, you’ve drunk vegan wine without realising it. It tastes the same as regular wine, but it’s a more positive option.
More and more retailers and bars are selling vegan-friendly options to meet the demand, and this includes wine.
According to The Vegan Society, there were only 150,000 vegans in the UK in 2014, and this figure rose to a mighty 600,000 in 2019 - and it’s likely to be even higher in 2021.
You might not find animal products on the labels of wines as most of the animal product is filtered out or evaporated during the fining process.
Processing agents may not be listed on the label of a wine, so be extra careful when looking for vegan-friendly wines.
The Fining Process
So, when does a wine become non-vegan? It all comes down to the fining process.
Fermentation is the part of the winemaking process where alcohol is produced - the natural sugars of the grapes get converted into alcohol.
The grape juice sits in a fermentation tank where yeast grows, triggering the reaction that turns it into wine.
When a wine ferments, it becomes cloudy and has molecules floating about.
Although this is a completely natural by-product of the fermentation process and it’s safe to consume, most people prefer a clearer wine. This is where the fining process comes into play.
The fining process is a way of stabilising the wine and clearing it of any excess sediment, giving it the clear, fresh look and smooth taste we know and love.
It also eliminates any unwanted flavours and aromas, and excess organic particles such as yeast and protein.
The wine is filtered through fining agents, which is where the wine becomes non-vegan.
Many standard wines you’ll find on the shelves are put through fining agents that contain animal products.
Some ingredients in these fining agents include:
- Bone marrow
- Casein (milk protein)
- Fish bladder gelatin
- Fish oil
- Egg whites
- Chitin (from crustacean shells)
Once the fining process is over, the fining agents are removed - they either get filtered out or evaporate.
Even though the fining agents are removed, there still may be traces of animal product that has been absorbed or not completely filtered out - making it unsuitable for vegans.
Although egg white and milk proteins are suitable for vegetarians, it’s still not an option for vegans.
Thankfully, there are vegan alternatives that can be used as fining agents.
Some cruelty-free alternatives that are suitable for vegans include:
- Pea gelatine
- Silica gel
- Silica clay
- Kaolin (a type of clay mineral)
- Kieselguhr (sedimentary rock)
Some people prefer wine that hasn’t been through a fining process, as it’s a more natural option.
Many vintners believe that fining a wine will rid the wine of its natural flavours and textures, so they choose to skip the fining process.
When a wine hasn’t been put through fining agents, it may appear to be cloudy and have sediment floating around or sitting on the bottom of the wine.
It can take a long time to leave the wine to clarify naturally, as instead of putting the wine through the fining process, it’s down to gravity to do the job.
It can take years in barrels for this to happen before the wine is clear and ready for consumption.
Benefits of Vegan Wine
More and more people are taking positive steps to consume fewer animal products - whether in the form of veganism, vegetarianism, pescetarianism, or flexitarianism.
Everybody has their own reasons for doing so - it can be for health reasons, environmental reasons, or to reduce animal cruelty.
Vegan Wine is Healthier
Many wines contain traces of eggs, gluten, and other things that shouldn’t really be there
Although unfiltered wine tends to be cloudier, it actually contains a variety of beneficial bacteria that’s great for gut health.
This also contributes to a quicker metabolism and better weight management.
Many vegan wines are also organic and use grapes grown in organic vineyards.
In organic vineyards, there are no herbicides or pesticides used on the grapes, which means the wine produced is far less likely to cause any health problems.
There’s also no artificial chemicals and preservatives used in the filtering and bottling process, and you’re more likely to recognise the ingredients listed on the label.
Organic wines also have up to 32% more resveratrol than regular wines.
Resveratrol is a plant compound that has anti-ageing properties, can raise your life expectancy, and can even help your body fight against cancer - so it’s a super healthy addition to any wine.
Vegan Wine is Better For The Environment
The animal farming industry is one of the leading causes of global warming.
It’s one of the biggest polluters on the planet and it produces more waste than many other industries.
A lot of energy is required to feed, transport, process, store, and kill animals on a mass scale.
Acres and acres of our precious forests are cut down to accommodate this industry and make space.
We need our forests to absorb excess greenhouse gases, so deforestation is heating up our planet.
Choosing vegan wines over regular wines that use animal products is a statement that you care about our planet.
Vegan Wine is Free From Cruelty
Going vegan or vegetarian, or just taking small steps to reduce your animal product intake is helping animals all around the globe.
Making changes such as choosing vegan wine instead of regular wine is reducing the demand, meaning fewer animals are bred to suffer in farms and slaughterhouses.
Each year in the UK alone, 1 billion animals are bred and killed for food.
Most animals in the animal-farming industry will live their lives indoors and are likely to get killed before they reach their 2-month birthday.
Going vegan for one month saves approximately 30 animal lives - meaning 30 animals are free from the suffering that goes on in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Egg whites used in the filtration process will typically be sourced from chickens that have been in cages their whole lives.
Gelatin and bone marrow will come from animals that have only ever known suffering, and the same goes for milk protein.
Vegan wines contain no animal products and haven’t been touched by animal products, so you can enjoy glass after glass knowing that you’re not taking part in animal cruelty and you’re helping to make the world a better place.