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Why Red Wine Might Not Be Vegan

Why Red Wine Might Not Be Vegan

When we think of wine and what it is made out of, we automatically think of grapes - which would lead one to assume that wine is therefore vegan. However, it might come as some surprise that not all wine is vegan - and today, we are going to explain why.

Vegan diets have been growing in popularity over the last decade, with health and environmental reasons being the main factors for people wanting to switch their entire diet to get rid of any animal products. Over 600,000 people are now estimated to be vegan in the UK and the rise of vegan options has been continually cropping up in restaurants and cafe menus throughout the UK as a result.

If you follow a vegan diet and find yourself constantly checking labels for traces of animal products, or maybe you are trying to make a conscious effort to become a more sustainable person and reduce your carbon footprint by limiting products you buy that are not vegan - then keep reading as we are going to tell you more about red wine and the process of how it is made.

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Not All Red Wine is Vegan

It can be a shock to many to discover that not all wine or red wine is vegan friendly. Wine is made from the pressing and fermenting of grapes and many do not know the winemaking process other than this so it is not uncommon to be unaware that animal products are often used.

Although red wine is fruit-based, the production techniques used to create the product in the winery can involve animal products. These techniques can vary, but it is these techniques that produce a product that is not suitable for vegans.


Which Part of the Process Uses Animal Products?

All young wines are cloudy to start with and contain many different natural and harmless molecules such as tartrates, tannins, phenolics and proteins.

Wine can eventually ‘self-fine’ if left alone for long enough, but wine drinkers love wine to be clear and crisp. To supply wine lovers with a clear product and meet demands, many winemakers choose to use ‘fining agents’ to speed up the process.

During the production process, there is a process called ‘fining’. Fining is the process whereby producers of the wine help to clarify it and stabilise the colours and flavours by removing any compounds that can interfere with or influence the taste and clarity of the wine, removing the protein, yeast, copper ions, sulphides and any cloudiness or ‘off’ flavours and colours.

Fining involves adding a substance to the wine in order to remove such things. These fining agents are often products from animals which is the reason that makes a lot of wines unsuitable for vegans. There are different products that can be used as fining agents which have a good clarifying effect on the wine and the winemaking process, a lot of which come from different animals and different parts of animals.


What Fining Agents Are Non-Vegan?

Most of the fining agents used for red wine include egg whites, known as ‘albumin’. Casein is another common fining agent - it is a protein found in milk. Casein is often used in winemaking as it is good for giving wines brilliant clarity and removing any oxidative taint. This type of fining agent is suitable for vegetarians, but not vegans as it contains dairy products.

Isinglass is another fining product which is essentially fish bladder protein. This was used more widely in the past and again, helps to give wines more clarity by removing solids and excess colour. Other agents include fish oil and gelatin, all of which are the main ones.

Once the fining process is completed, whichever agent is used is then removed from the finished product, whether it be filtered or evaporated. Due to the nature of the wine, tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed during the fining process. The use of animal products during this process is what makes it unsuitable for vegans.


Does Vegan Red Wine Exist?

As more and more people are looking for products that do not contain animal products and that are vegan and cruelty-free, whether they have a vegan diet or not, the demand for vegan-friendly products is high.


Animal Product Alternatives

A large number of winemakers are opting to use animal-friendly fining agents as many people prefer more organic products - therefore winemakers across the globe are adopting more natural methods.

Wine can be left for nature to take its course for it to ‘self-fine’ and stabilise itself, which eliminates the need for animal products at this part of the process.

Self-fining can take some time so alternatively, some winemakers are opting to use vegan-friendly fining agents such as clay-based fining methods. These are commonly used and have been proven to be particularly effective at fining wine. Some other vegan-friendly fining agents include carbon, limestone, vegetable plaques and plant casein.


How Do I Know If My Red Wine Is Vegan?

Like many food and drink products, it usually takes a matter of seconds to identify whether or not a product is vegan. Most things have a label on the front or back of the packaging displaying whether something is suitable. Unfortunately, it is not as straightforward with wine as you might like it to be if you wish to identify whether a bottle of red wine is vegan or not - because it is not always clearly listed on the label.

A safe bet to choose a vegan-friendly wine is to pick up a bottle that is labelled as ‘unfined’ or ‘unfiltered’ somewhere on the packaging, as that means the wine has been left to self stabilise without using a fining agent at all.

You can also research any brand of wine that you intend to consume yourself. Do some digging online and you will be sure to find the information you need - most decent wine brands will include the information about products used to create their wine for their customers on their websites.


ThinK Wine

If you are in doubt or feeling overwhelmed about what wine you can or can’t consume or want to opt for wines that do not use animal products during the making of their products then look no further, you can trust us at ThinK Wine. If you're unsure why you should choose vegan wine, check out this post.

We are proud to produce wine and prosecco that is 100% vegan and also organic - at ThinK Wine, we believe all winemakers should give their consumers more transparency on how their wines are made and it should be clearly visible on their packaging and also product descriptions.

So many consumers of wine are unclear or even unaware of the animal products used to create wine. Let customers know about the products they consume so they can make their choice about what to consume and not be kept in the dark about what they are buying or consuming - or whether it is suitable for their diet or lifestyle.

We are proud to create vegan prosecco and vegan sparkling rosé and not only are the products we sell vegan but they are also reduced in sugar and calories too so you can enjoy your beverage with the piece of mind that no animals were harmed and enjoy an alcoholic beverage guilt-free due to the reduced calories and sugar.

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