01 November 2010

Yes it's true not all wine is appropriate for vegans

I love red wine. Let me repeat. I love red wine.

Transitioning to a vegan diet meant doing a lot of research. I wanted to learn how to eat nutritiously and to make great meals. Imagine my surprise when one day I read these two words: vegan wine. Huh? First my heart started racing. What? I have to give up red wine?! Obviously, this called for further research.

Wine isn’t Vegan?

Yes, that’s the obvious question. Why isn’t all wine vegan? Turns out, it’s about how the wine is finished (clarified).

From French Wine Online (FWO):
“During the wine making process both organic and non-organic vintners typically employ the use of clarifying/fining agents derived from animal products - those ranging from egg whites, egg albumin, casein (milk protein) and gelatin (derived from animal bones) to chitin (obtained from lobster and crab shells) and isinglass (a fish by-product).

Fining is the process which makes cloudy wine clear, and removes “off” tastes and unwanted substances missed during the filtration part of the process. As the fining agents are poured into the wine, they pass from top to bottom, acting as magnets that attract the unwanted particles. Once completing their journey they are removed - theoretically leaving no traces of them behind.

Okay, now we know why some wine isn’t vegan. What makes a vegan wine vegan?

It is the agents used for fining that determine the suitability of wine for Vegans. Fining agents used to process Vegan Wines are typically organic, plant or mineral-based material such as bentonite clay, kaolin, carbon or diatomaceous earth (rock made from pulverized algae).” 

From Frey Vineyards (America’s first organic winery!)
…we use only bentonite, a natural earth clay, as the fining agent for our white wines. (Frey red wines are not fined).


While researching vegan wine I came across some great resources.
  1. Barnivore: I downloaded the Barnivore iPhone app and now terrorize my local wine shop and restaurant waiters as I pull out the iPhone to help me select a vegan wine from their offerings.
  2. Vegan Wine Guide
  3. JL’s Vegan Wine List: I’m keeping track of vegan wines that I try and soon will begin to add tasting notes, cost, etc.

JL | @JLgoesvegan
Post-40 JL became a marathoner and triathlete, changed careers and transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. She now blogs about vegan cooking (and wine!) and fitness. Follow JL on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: Frey Wine