What is Vegetarian and Vegan wine?
The fact that a wine is organic or biodynamic has no bearing on whether the wine will be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. What’s important (and we find out with every one of our wines), is how it is treated or finished in the final stages of being made.
The part where fermented wine is cleared of all the floating particles and sediments (dead yeasts, proteins, tannins etc) is called ‘fining’ (or clarification). This is done so your wine in hand is nice and clear, bright and presentable.
There’s different ways to achieve this end result. If the wine producer has time on his or her hands, it will happen naturally over several weeks or months, settling by gravity the sediments sink to the bottom of the storage tanks, after which the clear wine can be taken (racked) off. However, waiting so long is sometimes not an option, it’s here that the winemaker can choose to speed the process up, by using one of a variety of products, some of which are animal based. For example gelatine (protein from animal bones and cartilage), isinglass (swim bladders from fish) are hardly very vegetarian or vegan suitable, even though, reportedly none of these fining agents actually remain in your finished bottle. Casein (milk protein) and albumen (egg whites from organic eggs if organic wine) are vegetarian suitable agents which may be preferable, but still would be unacceptable to strict vegans. For them, only bentonite (an inert clay) or a wine that’s been cleared naturally over time would get the thumbs up.
Although there are rumours for new labelling requirements for some of the mentioned products, nothing has yet been fixed. So the only way you are likely to be able to choose a wine that’s vegetarian or vegan suitable, is to buy from a merchant that finds this information out directly from it’s suppliers, keeps it up to date and passes it on via it’s wine list or website, or choose a wine that carries the vegetarian or vegan approved symbols, for example our own ‘house wines
In times gone by dried blood was even used to fine wine, though this is now outlawed. It also should be mentioned that the choice of fining product by a producer may change from vintage to vintage, as it can affect the mouth feel (and therefore perceived quality) of the wine too. Vintage Roots will always encourage our producers to make their wines vegetarian and/or vegan suitable, as we like to have our wines enjoyed by as many as possible, and appreciate this information is important for choice. Look for the ‘V’ (Vegetarian suitable) and ‘VG’ (Vegan suitable) symbols on our website and in our Wine List.