Natural Merchants imports vegan wines from throughout Europe which are designated as certified organic, or made with organically grown grapes. All of our winery partners are committed to using no animal byproducts in production, utilizing only Bentonite clay, a naturally occurring mineral, or vegetable protein as fining and clarifying agents.
Fining agents are used to improve the clarity of a wine by removing the protein, yeast particles, cloudiness, off flavors and reduce the organic particles or sediment. The fining agents added to the wine attract unwanted particles, then become heavy and settle at the bottom as sediment. The clear wine is then siphoned off the top. For many winemakers, it is the final step in giving the wine a beautiful, polished finish.
Animal Byproducts Used in Non Vegan Wines
Fining agents are extracted from many sources and elements you may never think of as being added to wine. Popular animal-derived fining and clarification agents used in the production of conventional wine include:
- Casein (milk protein)-used in winemaking to give white wines clarity and remove oxidative taint.
- Chitosan (fiber from crustacean shells)-has a positive ionic charge and is used to remove excess color and phenols from white wines.
- Egg whites (albumen)-still widely used in Bordeaux to remove harsh tannins.
- Gelatin (a protein derived from animal hides and bones) used on both red and white wines to enhance color or effect mouth feel.
- Isinglass (derived from fish swim bladder membranes)-gives white wines brilliant clarity by removing solids and excess color.
The Guardian writer Jon Henley explains in his article Natural Wines: No Lab-bred Yeast, Pig Pancreas or Cryo-Extraction, that conventional wines can include a wide range of animal-based additives as well as other chemicals: “These range from eggs and milk through lab-bred yeasts, powdered tannins, phosphates and peroxides to animal derivatives such as casein.”
From the Winerist in their article about Discovering Vegan Wine: “The problem is that these animal-based products are not used only to filter the wine and then thrown away, but small quantities might get absorbed into the wine as well, making wine unsuitable for vegans.”
All Natural Merchants wineries use only bentonite, a natural earth clay with a negative charge to attract unwanted particles, or vegetable pea protein for fining and clarification. Those who have chosen vegan lifestyles can feel comfortable in consuming our entire portfolio of wines. A listing of our wines and other vegan-friendly wines can be found at www.barnivore.com. Gluten-containing fining agents include hydrolyzed wheat gluten isolate, which our wineries also avoid, making all of our wines also 100% gluten free.
Our winery partners are 100% committed to vegan certification. Look for Vegan on the back label or a vegan certification seal.