As I am sure you know wine is basically made from fermented grape juice. Grape juice is of course suitable for vegan and vegetarians alike. The reason that wines may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians is simply down to the fining agents used to clear the wine.Read More
In the old days, i.e.100 plus years ago, wine drinkers would drink cloudy wine. there was nothing wrong with the wine and any cloudiness would come from tiny particals that naturally form in wine such as tannins, phenolics, tartrates and protiens If the wines were left to stand over time these deposits would natually fall to the bottom of the botttle, hence the decanting process.
These days we like our wines to be be bright and shinny and most of all clear. As wine making methods have improved, various fining agents were used to clean the wine. These used to be milk proteins (casein), egg whites (albumin), animal protein (gelatin) and fish protien (isinglass). Placed in a tank of wine before bottling this would naturally settle through the wine taking out the deposits.
Taking into account vegiterian and vegan demands these days wine makers are usining clay-based fining agants such as bentonite and in come cases charcoal. Some winemakers are just allowing the wines to settle naturally.
So why are these Agents used?
This is the techy bit. In red wine what is called protenatious fining is used to filter out tannins. This is used by 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.
The problem we have as a wine merchant is that it is difficult to find out what type of fining agents are used in the wine making process. Depending on the vintage a producer may use different types fining agents. It is up to the producer to choose a label for their bottle of wine so amny neglect to mention whether the wine is suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
We are working hard to keep our product records upto date with all types of information from allergens through to the wines vegan and vegetarian status. If in doubt please feel free to ask.
Also in this section of the site we will flag sulphate free wines along with other wines that will suite people with dietary conditions. As and when we source such products we will update this section of the web site.