Many people find it relaxing to enjoy a delicious glass of wine at the end of the day. This is an easy, official way to say that the workday is done. By kicking back with a glass of wine, you're giving yourself permission to enjoy the rest of the day for yourself.
However, for our vegan and vegetarian friends who love a good glass of wine, you might be surprised to learn the drink in your hand isn't actually vegan… or is it?
Wait… All Wine Isn't Vegan?
When you think of wine, you likely immediately assume that it's vegan. After all, isn't wine just a product of grapes and yeast? Where does one find grapes and natural yeast that aren't vegan?
Grapes and yeast on their own are vegan products, but some of the processes later on in the winemaking lifecycle can cause a wine to stop being vegan. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Why take a vegan product and make it less vegan? This is why many vineyards and wineries in today's market are putting forth the effort to market their products as vegan wine so that vegetarians and vegans who want to enjoy a nice drink at the end of the day are able to do so worry-free.
However, it's important to note that some nations' current wine regulations, like those in the United States and the European Union, do not require wines to note if they're vegan or not. Canadian regulations are much the same in that alcoholic beverages should be noted as such, but are not required to say if they're vegan or not. Shocking, right?
That's why, before you buy vegan wine online or in a store, you should always double-check the label to ensure what you're getting is actually what you're looking for!
What Causes Wine to Not Be Vegan?
Traditionally, winemaking is a slow, natural process. When the winemaking process starts, the grape juice is pressed out of the grapes, and the juice and hulls of the grapes are left to ferment. As they ferment, the solids and impurities within the wine slowly sink to the bottom of the bottle, barrel, jar, or what have you.
The longer the bottle of wine sits, the clearer it becomes. All the solids in the wine slowly solidify at the bottom, keeping the body of the wine clear. This wine is usually marketed as being unfiltered and unfined because no processes are used to remove the sediment and other impurities from the wine. This does not mean that the wine is unsafe to drink, but it means the wine was allowed to ferment and clarify using nothing but time and its own natural processes.
The fining process is typically what makes the difference between vegan wine and non-vegan wine. You might be surprised to learn that many fining agents are made of animals or animal by-products, making some wines vegetarian, but not vegan. Other wines aren't vegetarian or vegan because of these refining processes.
This doesn't mean that all fined wine is not vegan, however. In today's market, there are other additives that can be used to ensure that you have a good vegan wine without using animal-based fining agents. Some fining agents that do not include animal products are:
Poly-vinyl-poly-pyrrolidone, or PVPP, is a synthetic clarifying agent that has been used in the industry for decades. It's a plastic-like substance that is mostly used in white wines to clarify them and give them their light hue. It also reduces the bitterness in wines.
Bentonite is a form of clay or pea protein that is also often used in clarifying wine. Like PVPP, this is mostly used for white wines and rosé wines. It can be used to absorb different wine aromas and get rid of strong flavours that aren't exactly the most pleasant. Vegans rejoice! Bentonite is very widely used in most wineries today, and wines that use this fining agent are vegan!
Animal Products That Have Typically Been Used in Wine
Some of the animal products that are used in the fining process might surprise you.
Egg whites are still commonly used as a fining agent for many wines. They are used mostly in red wines to help remove the strong, astringent taste of tannins. After all, tannins in a wine can be delicious, but too many can make a wine taste very bitter!
Adding egg whites to the wine helps bind the tannins to the egg whites. As the egg whites sink to the bottom, the excessive tannins go with them, leaving the wine clearer and more delicious! This method of fining the wine is vegetarian, since it does not use any animal products, but it is not vegan because of the eggs.
Casein is found in milk and is used mostly for white wines. Casein removes impurities from the wine and eases oxidation, leaving it clear.
You might be surprised to learn that gelatin isn't vegan! Instead, most gelatin is made from animal hides and bones. (Try not to think about that the next time that you're enjoying a cup of Jell-O!) Used in both red and white wines, gelatin adds a certain unctuousness to wines and brightens the colour. However, in return, a lot of the tannins are lost in this process.
All of these processes are still common in the wine industry today. However, to be a true vegan wine, none of these fining agents can be used in the production at all.
Traynor Family Vineyard
At Traynor Family Vineyard, we're proud to be one of the premiere wineries in Prince Edward County. We take pride in our high-quality, delicious vegan wine that we ship all over the country and beyond. We're dedicated to sustainability and have committed to eco-friendly practices to organically maintain the health of our grape vines.
Our website makes it easy to buy vegan wine online. All our wines are certified vegan, so you can feel comfortable choosing whichever one suits you. No matter what, you're sure to get a delicious wine, carefully crafted by our wineries in Prince Edward County.
When you order from Traynor Family Vineyard, you can be sure that you're walking away with a good vegan wine that is sure to please the wine-lover in your life.