Going back in history, wine drinkers would drink cloudy wine. There was nothing wrong with the wine and any cloudiness came from tiny particles that naturally form in wine such as tannins, phenolics, tartrates and proteins. If the wines were left to stand over time, these deposits would naturally fall to the bottom of the bottle, hence the decanting process.
These days we like our wines to be bright and shiny and most of all clear. As wine making methods have improved, various fining agents have been used to clean the wine. These used to be milk proteins (casein), egg whites (albumin), animal protein (gelatin) and fish protein (isinglass). Placed in a tank of wine before bottling, these would naturally settle through the wine and take out the deposits.
Fast forward to now, winemakers are recognising preferences for non-animal derived proceesses and are using clay-based fining agents such as bentonite and, in come cases charcoal. And some winemakers are just allowing the wines to settle naturally.
So why are these fining agents used?
This is the techy bit. In red wine, what is called protenatious fining is used to filter out tannins. This includes use of gelatin, egg white and in the old days - dried blood! Benzonite is also used to remove proteins from the wine in reds. The use of fining agents in white wine is mainly concerned with making the wines look bright.
Depending on the vintage, a producer may use different types of fining agents. It is up to the producer to choose a label for their bottle of wine and not all makers state whether their wine is suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
We work hard to ensure all the information on our wines is up to date and that any allergens are stated as well as suitability for vegan and vegetarian consumers. If in doubt, please feel free to ask.
Also in this section of the site - we flag sulphite free wines along with other wines that will suit dietary needs.