Vegan Wine 101
Always on the lookout for trends, some are interested in vegan wine. After the organic wine, the natural wine and the orange wine, more and more wines are appearing with a vegan logo on the label. But what does wine have to do with vegan products ?
As you know, vegans limit their diet to vegetal products. No dairy products, no eggs, no products that come directly from animals etc. But that can be found during the winemaking process at a precise moment: during the « collage » or fining.
What Is Fining?
When the yeast fermentation has been completed the winemaker needs to clarify the wine. That process consists in getting rid of the impurities and sediments left during the fermentation. This is done by filtration and fining (collage). This means adding proteins in the vat that will attract unwanted particles and remaining yeasts.
The most used protein remains the egg white, to the chagrin of vegans. When it is not the egg white that is used to coagulate the residues, the winemaker can also use some fish products (from bladder, fins or cartilages), bone marrow gelatin animals, animal blood albumin or milk-based casein. It is the price to pay for not having impurities. Collage also makes the wine brighter (clearer) and (let’s dare to say it) more stable from a microbiological point of view.
Purist vegans therefore seek wines that respect their « religion », even if, in fact, the quantities of products derived from animals and dairy products are so minimal since the subsequent filtering allows to eliminate the great majority of the particles. In order to not offending their « church » vegans will then have to consult the labels to try to find wines that have been « filtered » with products of mineral origin such as bentonite (a kind of clay) or vegetable proteins containing peas, potato or wheat.
Vegan But Not Organic ?
Wines from organic vineyards can go through a collage without any animal substance but it is not automatic. On the other hand, what comes closer to a vegan wine is the natural wine because it is by definition not « collé ». With the least possible interventions, there is no question for the « natural » winemaker to filter or coller his wines, which often results in a wine with less clear « robe ». Some will see this as a flaw, others not.
How to find vegan wines?
For the moment don’t expect to find easily those wines in stores because few of them bear one of the vegan logos. You might be able to find some on the organic or natural wines shelves. Some will mention « No Collage, No Filtration » on the label. One of the last options remains the kosher wines since the products of animal origin are not allowed in the wine.
In closing, I can’t prevent myself to sharing that interesting wine label that mentions that wine is vegan and that recommends paring with… some red meat ! Cheers !