What Is Vegan Wine? All About Vegan Wine
The number of people following a vegan diet in the UK is on the rise. Here at Vintage Roots, we’ve been labelling wines as vegetarian or vegan since the 1990s, before they became as popular as they are now. We hope you enjoy this 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 good 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’re 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, like wine.
Veganism and meat-free meals and diets are indeed on the rise in the UK, which means more and more people also want to know about vegan wines. In this vegan wine guide, we’ll answer the following about vegan wines:
- What is vegan wine? Which wines are vegan?
- How to find vegan wines
- Are all organic wines vegan too?
- What foods go well with vegan wine?
What is vegan wine? And which wines are vegan?
If you are vegan, you might be wondering which wines are vegan or what makes a wine vegan in the first place. The answer is that it depends on the wine, the producer and the vintage/year it was made. But yes, vegan wines do exist. This article is all about how to find out whether a wine is vegan, and also how you can get your hands on delicious vegan-friendly wines that are also organic.
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.
Vegan fining does indeed exist, however
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 who 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 that involves ingredients from animals.
How to find vegan wines
When it comes to finding vegan wine, it is up to the winemakers to put that information on their labelling. Some choose to (like the labels above, and some don’t). Make sure that you read the labels carefully, and if they don’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, however, this limit is almost never reached.
Because vegan wines are becoming more popular, many wine retailers in the UK have vegan wines available. These are often listed separately online to make them easier to find. The vast majority of our organic wines here at Vintage Roots are vegan suitable (over 95%, which means over 300 wines to pick from!). 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. We ensure that we have detailed information from our suppliers. 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. You can easily find out if a wine is vegan or not by keeping an eye out for the ‘VG’ symbol on any of our wines’ descriptions. Vegetarian wines use the ‘V’ symbol.
Are all organic wines vegan too?
The quick answer is no, although a very big percentage of the oragnic wines we sell are also vegan suitable. An increasing number of wine labels will now tell you if a wine is vegan or vegetarian suitable.
Plenty of our organic wines here at Vintage Roots are indeed vegan, meaning we sell over 300 certified organic wines that are also vegan! Organic wines are made from grapes that are grown in a more environmentally friendly way, which means that organic vegan wines are a very eco-conscious choice. You can find out more about the benefits of choosing organic wine here.
If you’re looking for vegan wines, we have one of the largest ranges available, and here are some of our most popular organic vegan wine choices.
First off, if you’re new to us, you might enjoy our hand-picked organic wine mixed cases, and almost all of these contain vegan wines.
Containing three popular vegan reds and whites, our Most Popular Organics mixed case is a good place to start.
Tenuta Giol is a very progressive winemaking estate that’s been very supportive of vegan wines and labelling them as such. The Giol Miixed Six is a fabulous introduction to their wines.
You can view all our other vegan mixed wine cases here.
If you’re looking for two great vegan reds, the Bohem No Added Sulphur Tempranillo is one of most popular vegan reds.
Another popular and top-reviewed Spanish red is the Carta Roja Pura Monastrell No Added Sulphur.
For a vegan white, go for Stellar No Added Sulphur White, which is made from 100% Colombard (similar in style to Sauvignon Blanc).
For another popular vegan white wine, try our Wild Thing Sauvignon Blanc, which also provides donations to the Born Free Foundation for every bottle sold.
What food goes with vegan wine?
First off, 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.
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 too.
Hopefully, this article has filled you in about vegan wine and answered all your questions! Vegan wine is out there, but it may take a little work to find, although they are certainly rising in popularity.