The question whether wines are vegan or not never occurred to me. I just took it for granted they all are.
Not so long ago I sat at the kitchen table of a celiac friend of mine. She had served an Argentine white wine from the bodega Norton. She wanted to know where I got my sustainable plant pots from . I have them on the rooftop terrace at the Marcel, in my private space, on the walls. So I googled both, the wine and the planters. The fact that Norton wine was labeled vegan arouse my attention.
When are wines NOT vegan ?
The majority of people are unaware that wine, although made from grapes, may have been made using animal-derived products. During the winemaking process, the liquid is filtered through substances called “fining agents”.
Fining is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and other organic particles. It clarifies and stabilizes a wine, making it less likely to turn cloudy after bottling, especially if subjected to high temperatures. It also helps improve the wine’s texture by softening rough tannins.
Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of wine include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).
This is when they ARE !
Thankfully, there are several common fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan wine. Carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques are all suitable alternatives.
The most common animal-friendly fining agent is bentonite clay. Chances are you never heard of it. Yet, bentonite is a very old clay. The fine powder forms when volcanic ash ages. It’s named after Fort Benton, WY, which has a lot of it. But it’s found all over the world.
How Does It Work in Wine?
Bentonite is impure clay created by weathered volcanic ash. The material is very absorbent and it binds and bonds onto any floating particulates which cause haziness or cloudiness in wine. Once it binds to these particles, it will eventually fall out of the wine helping improve its overall clarity.
Is there a difference in flavor?
As a consumer you will surely wonder if there are differences in aromas and flavor when tasting a vegan and a non-vegan wine. The answer is no, a wine for vegans does not have a different flavor or quality, just like organic food.
The Quest for Vegan Wines
I have no clue of how many bottles of wine I killed – I live in wine country Argentina, remember , – but I can guarantee I never saw the word ‘vegan’ on a Argentine wine label. Guess, I never looked good enough.
So how do I know if a wine is vegan?
If you’re a purist, there’s no way to guarantee there is absolutely no residue from the fining agent in the wine. So vegans often look for wines labeled as “unfined.”
Kosher wines are also vegan by definition, as kosher rules prohibit the use of animal products in wine production.
In the US, it is not required by regulation to list the ingredients on their wine labels. If you’re concerned about the use of animal products in wine production, you could favor wineries who list ingredients on their labels.
I can make your hunt for vegan wines simple
You can take a subscription on VegNews and get a free vegan treat on top. They run several up-to-date VegNews Guides, for your mailbox or inbox, – a series of lists dedicated to the things vegans love most—wine included. Click here for their ever expanding roster of the vegan wines offered in the USA .
In 2018 The Washington Post ran an article on vegan wines. It was July 2020 when I read the article. The subtitle on the main page sadly said ‘ Democracy dies in Darkness’. Yes, Trump was still there.
“Democracy dies in Darkness”
In Europe, look for the V-label, a certification granted by the European Vegetarian Union.
A matter of building trust : Argentina
In Argentina veganism is steadily on the rise. This trend has led some bodegas to become interested in complying with practices that would allow to obtain the certification of wines suitable for vegans.
LIAF CONTROL, the Inspection and Certification Body for Argentina, – with headquarters in Buenos Aires, – has the first certification scheme for vegan products in Argentina. A wine approved as vegan will show its Conformity Mark on the label.
The Certification label guarantees that a wine is vegan and provides consumer confidence and credibility to the wine maker.
This is a voluntary certification scheme. Once granted by LIAF CONTROL, the wine maker is allowed to display the label VINO APTO VEGANO ( wine suitable vegan ) on the primary packaging. In case of wine that’s on the back label of the bottle. Following this procedure the wine maker is in compliance with the new INV Resolution for WINE SUITABLE for VEGANS ( Res 2019-14APN-INV #MAGYP )
Does the certification expire?
The certification is in force as long as the wine maker maintains his certification through an inspection every year. Unless the wine maker decides to cancel it or LIAF CONROL decides to suspend or cancel the certification for non-compliance.
In Mendoza, which together with Salta are the two major wine producing regions in the country, there are several wineries vegan certified for different brands.
- Viñas de Alto Salvador
- Don Cristóbal
- Jasmine Monet
- Roales Corbeau Wines
- Finca Decero
- Bodega Argento
- Bodegas Fabre
- Bodega Foster Lorca
Another bodega, Bodega Renacer obtains certification from theVegan Society. The products that have Vegan Certification are: Punto Final Malbec; Final Point Cabernet Sauvignon; Classic Malbec Rosé End Point; Malbec Reserve End Point and Cabernet Franc Reserve End Point.
I no longer think that vegan labelled wine is for purists. Next time I buy wine, I know how to chose.
My gratitude goes to WealthyAffiliates. Without their technical support and encouragement this website would not exist.