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Vegan wine: what is it all about?

Veganism has been sweeping the world whether it be for ethical grounds around animal welfare, driven by concerns around climate change or a lifestyle choice an increasing number of people are choosing to avoid products made from animals. But how does this impact wine if it is made from grapes? I’m glad you asked.

First you have to understand the wine making process to know that some animal products are often used in wine production. When the grapes are pressed to create the juice to ferment there are is material, called solids, that are released with the juice often related to the skins, pips and sometime stalks from the grape bunches.

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Even for white wines that don’t have skin contact during the fermentation process there is a level of suspended solids that can make the wine cloudy and cloudy wine is not perceived well by consumers.

There are a number of ways of removing this sediment before bottling, a process called fining, including:

All of the items above, often in powered form, are dropped into the top of the vessel containing the wine and slowly drop to the bottom of the vessel, binding too and taking the suspended solids with them. The solids and the fining agent are then removed from the bottom of the vessel and the clear wine drained out from a tap above the sediment. It should be noted that most of the fining agents are removed but trace elements can remain.

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Many of you will have noticed that all of these fining agents are actually derived from animals or animal products. This would be an issue for vegans but fortunately most of them will appear on the label if they are used.

Thankfully there are a number of fining agents that aren’t derived from animals including:

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The wine label may mention these fining agents or just say the wine is Vegan Friendly.

So why don’t all winemakers just use fining agents from non animal sources and make all wine Vegan Friendly?

Good question. The choice to use a fining agents comes down to cost and the actions of the agent. For example even through Bentonite is good for removing suspended solids in white wines it can strip the colour from red wines making them appear lighter. This can be an issue where consumers relate wine colour to the strength or body of the wine. A number of winemakers are getting around this by offering Vegan Friendly wines along with their regular range or offering Organic wines that are also Vegan Friendly like Angoves above.

Either way there is a growing appreciation in the industry for Vegan wines and the number available is growing. So being Vegan, whatever the reasons is, shouldn’t stop you from drinking good wine.

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