Welcome to our 2019 guide to vegan wine. We’ll explain what vegan wine is, how to buy vegan wines and what food goes with vegan wines. The number of people following a vegan diet is rapidly increasing. Here at Vintage Roots we’ve been labelling wines as vegetarian and vegan since the 1990s, so we like to think we know what we’re talking about! We hope you enjoy our vegan wine guide.
Who doesn’t love a good glass of wine? We definitely do, and for us, nothing is better than sitting down with friends and a delicious glass of wine. But for some people, it isn’t as simple as picking their favourite wine and pouring a glass.
With so many different dietary restrictions around, it can be hard to know if the wine you are drinking is okay for your diet. Vegans need to be careful with the things they eat and drink as many types of food and drinks use animal products. Even some that you wouldn’t expect.
If you are vegan, you might be wondering, is wine vegan? The answer is that it depends on the wine, the producer and the vintage. So yes, vegan wines do exist. This article is all about how you can find out what wine is or isn’t vegan. And how you can get your hands on some delicious wine that is vegan friendly, as well as being organic.
Are All Wines Vegan?
Unfortunately, not all wines are vegan friendly. This doesn’t mean that the wine itself is an animal product, but rather some of the fining ingredients in fining processes are.
Wine is naturally cloudy when it’s first made (just like cloudy apple juice!). Fining is the process used to clarify the wine. It removes proteins, yeast and other molecules that cloud the wine.
Some common ingredients that can make wine fining a non-vegan process are:
- Casein, which is a milk protein
- Albumin, found in egg whites
- Gelatine, a type of animal protein which can come from bone
- Isinglass, a fish bladder protein
If you are very strict vegan, these products are obviously a no-go, even if they are just a processing agent, and do not remain ‘in’ the wine. The first two ingredients, derived from milk and eggs, can be used in wines suitable for vegetarians.
Whilst fining is not essential, it can speed up the winemaking process. Otherwise, the wine must sit untouched for months on to clear naturally. Fining helps to separate the larger materials in the wine from the clear liquid. These molecules sink to the bottom making for a nice clear and bright wine, ready for consumption.
We do have some good news though, as not all fining processes are non-vegan. Carbon and clay-based fining ingredients are available, the most popular of which is bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is mixed with water and added to the wine. It bonds with the particles and settles to the bottom of the vessel and is then removed. Other methods are being developed too, with pea protein and vegetable gelatin becoming increasingly prevalent.
All fining processes, whether vegan or not, will result in a small loss of flavour. For this reason, quality winemakers that can afford to will wait for the particles to settle naturally before bottling. This is the most ‘natural’ way of producing a clear, bright wine, but it takes time.
So, when asking yourself, what is vegan wine? It’s simply a wine that doesn’t use a fining process with ingredients from animals.
Is All Organic Wine Vegan?
No is the answer, not all organic wine is vegan. An increasing number of wine labels will now tell you if it is vegan or vegetarian suitable. The merchant or producer must choose whether to pass this information on to you, the consumer.
We have a huge selection of vegan wines here on Vintage Roots, take a look at the range of wines available and give vegan wine a go.
How to Find Vegan Wine
When it comes to finding vegan wine, it is up to the producer to put information on the packaging. When looking for vegan wine, make sure that you read the label carefully. If it doesn’t say whether it is vegan or not, it’s safest to assume it is not vegan suitable, unless you can ask someone for the correct information. If the label says, ‘unfiltered and unfined’, or words to this effect, that will likely mean the wine is suitable for vegans. Unlike alcohol and sulphites, vegan status does not legally have to be on the label. If a wine contains more than 0.25 milligrams per litre of egg or milk products, this must be declared on the label. In practice this limit is almost never reached.
Here at Vintage Roots, we ensure that we have detailed information from our suppliers. You can easily find out if a wine is vegan or not by keeping an eye out for the VG symbol on any of the wine’s descriptions. Vegetarian wines use the V symbol.
We check with our wine producers each year for the up to date status, as just because a wine is vegan one year, does not mean it will be the next.
If you didn’t have a specific wine in mind, then you can search our website for vegan wines by typing VG in the search bar. Our clear and easy to understand information means that you won’t have a problem finding a vegan wine you love on our site.
What Does Vegan Wine Taste Like?
Vegan wine doesn’t taste different to any other wine. Many of the best wines don’t use any fining processes, making them vegan, to maximise the aromas and flavours.
What Food Goes With Vegan Wine?
Vegan wines can be enjoyed by everyone, whether they are vegan or not. As such, you can pair vegan wines with any foods you might usually enjoy. If you are looking for vegan food to go with vegan wines then the normal guidelines apply, but it’s fun to experiment! Light meals and salads are best with light white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Asian dishes such as stir-fries and mild curries can pair brilliantly with Riesling.
For Italian reds, think vegan pizza and pasta, as well as antipasti such as roasted artichokes and olives. Richer dishes such as chilli and mushroom stroganoff are great with full-bodied red wines from Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley and the New World.
When it comes to finding wine, you may have never asked yourself, is wine vegan? Hopefully this article has answered that question for you, and you are able to find some vegan friendly wine that you love. Vegan wine is out there, but it may take a little work to find. As vegan diets rise in popularity, they should become more readily available and clearly labelled.
The vast majority of our wines are vegan suitable (over 95%). We always encourage this, but the final decision rests with individual winemakers. They may feel a different fining product is beneficial to the structure of the wine in some vintages.