The start of 2020 has brought with it new year’s resolutions and with it over 250,000 people signing up to “Veganuary”, a campaign where people go vegan for a month. The number of vegans in the UK reached 3.5 million in 2018 and we have found that more and more people are asking for vegan wines. Previously, it has been assumed that all wine is vegan friendly, however, this is not the case. As people become more aware of this, the demand for vegan wines has increased.
Well, yes wine is made from grapes, however it is the winemaking process that causes some wines to no longer be vegan friendly. This is because animal additives such as isinglass (aka fish bladder), gelatine, egg white and milk protein are used in the fining (clarifying) and filtering stages of winemaking. Wine goes through this stage to remove tiny molecules such as proteins and tartrates in the wine that would not be nice to drink, along with other matters that could destabilise the wine, cause cloudiness or generally reduce the quality of the wine drinking experience. It is at this point that the animal products are used and they essentially act like a magnet, attracting the molecules around it. These molecules coagulate around the fining agent used, creating fewer but larger particles which are then easily removed.
Wines are not always filtered and fined using animal products, more and more plant based proteins are used to do this same job such as pea proteins, along with limestone and bentonite. When this is the case, the end wine will be vegan friendly.
Alternatively, producers can just leave the wine for long enough and the molecules will separate naturally which is becoming more popular with the search for minimal intervention in winemaking.
Wine labels typically do not indicate whether the wine is suitable for vegans or vegetarians. What they do state are the allergens, so with egg being an allergen, it will say on the label if egg whites have been used in the fining process. For the most part, however, wine producers do not certify themselves as vegan friendly. This is usually because it means extra costs for the producer which they do not want to take on, but with more and more demand for vegan wines I would be surprised if this doesn’t change.
So for the moment, it isn’t easy for you to know whether a wine is vegan friendly, but we are trying to do the hard work for you and are contacting producers to get the full information on their winemaking choices which we update on our website. So if you are unsure, either look on our website or pop in for some advice and we are always happy to assist you.
Being a vegan shouldn’t be about what you can’t have but about celebrating all those fantastic options out there, so whether you were partaking in “veganuary” or are a fully-fledged vegan, we thought we would make life easy for you and offer up some of our top vegan friendly wines:
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, Sussex England: This wine is becoming an English classic. Fragrant and flowery with delicious fruit. Dry on the palate with a delightful creamy finish.
Joseph Perrier Demi Sec, Champagne France: A classic medium dry Champagne, displaying rich citrus fruit characters on the nose and a lingering finish on the palate.
Vouvray La Forcine Demi Sec, Loire France: Elegant citrus fruit flavours give this medium style wine a balancing freshness that would be brilliant with dishes that have a bit of spice.
Domain Road Water Race Riesling, Central Otago New Zealand: A dry Riesling with lots of citrus notes of lemons and limes along with stone fruits of peaches and apricots. A wonderful example that there is more to New Zealand than Sauvignon Blanc.
Chemin des Pelerins, Saint Mont France: A dry, fruity wine that shows soft cherry fruit and a crisp finish. If you like pale, Provence rosé then you have to give this a try.
Bagordi Rosado, Rioja Spain: We are so excited about Rioja Rosé and this summer it is all you are going to want to drink. Bright red fruits and a bone dry finish; a real thirst quencher.
Cal Pla Tinto, Priorat Spain: A beast of a wine. Dark, rich black berried fruits with a full body to match. If you like a big wine, this is really brilliant.
Zuccardi Flores Malbec, Mendoza Argentina: A fruit driven Malbec from one of the most awarded Argeninean wine estates. If you like aubergine based dishes, this would be really lovely with it.