100% Vegan Wine
What is Vegan Wine?
Many wine drinkers prefer to have a wine that is clear rather than hazy, and in order to achieve that finish, the wine requires a clarification process called fining. Unfortunately some of the most common fining agents are derived from animal byproducts. Vegan wine hasn’t been fined using an animal-based fining agent or has been allowed to self-clarify over a longer period of time. Vegan wine is also produced without using any other animal byproduct ingredients.
What is a Fining Agent?
Fining agents are used to improve the clarity of a wine and reduce the 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.
Fining agents are extracted from many sources and elements you may never think of as being added to wine. Common fining agents include hydrolyzed wheat gluten isolate, casein (milk protein), gelatin (an animal protein), egg whites, isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish), and natural bentonite clay. All Natural Merchants wineries use only bentonite, a natural earth clay, or vegetable protein in the fining process. Some wines are unfiltered or fined altogether.
No Animal Byproducts are Used in the Production of our Wines.
Those who have chosen a vegan lifestyle can feel comfortable in consuming our entire portfolio of wines.
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. Some of our wineries utilize sterile filters (ceramic filters) or cross-flow filters as their only form of filtration and fining.
Some of our wines that are aged for long periods of time naturally let suspended solids sink to the bottom of the tank or barrel. These wines are often bottled as unfiltered and unfined, and may still appear cloudy to the eye. Most wines have a shorter processing time that does not allow the natural fining process to take place. For those wines, fining agents are utilized to speed up the wine’s natural clarification process.
From Vivino’s article What is Vegan Wine: “Vegan wines are made with the intent of not using animal byproducts in the winemaking process. There is no ‘official’ designation for vegan wines, as there is a possibility of insects living in the vines and on the grapes; but again, the intent is to not have this happen or to use animal byproducts in the winemaking process. This focus for winemakers on intent affords those wine drinkers who share this intention to drink world-class wines without animal byproducts.”
Fining Agents Used in Non-Vegan Wine
Popular animal-derived fining and clarification agents used in the production of conventional wine include:
- Casein (milk protein)-used in wine making to give white wines clarity and remove oxidative taint.
- Chitosan (also known as Chitan-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) is 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.
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.” In general, most who have chosen a vegan lifestyle prefer products, from food and drink to skin care, that are made without the use of animal products.
Bentonite Clay as a Natural Fining Agent in Vegan Wines
All Natural Merchants wineries use only bentonite, a natural earth clay or vegetable pea protein for fining and clarification. Bentonite is a clay formed by the weathering of volcanic ash. Wine makers receive the clay in a powdered form, then re-hydrate it with water to form a slurry. The minerals within the clay become negatively charged ions that attract the positively charged natural partials present during wine production. When added to the wine in very small amounts, it binds to the natural proteins, acting like a magnet to capture the floating particles that cause cloudiness and sediment in wine. The wine is left to settle for several days until the particles sink to the bottom of the tank. The clear wine is then “racked-off,” siphoned off the top.
How to Identify Vegan Wine
Our wines clearly state Certified Vegan or Vegan Friendly on the back labels. All are either certified vegan now, or in process of certification by one of the many worldwide vegan certification agencies:
Pizzolato Italian Organic Wines, Inkarri Organic/Biodynamic Argentinian Wines, Koyle Organic/Biodynamic Chilean Wines, Bodegas Matarromera Granza Spanish Organic wines and Sofos Organic Greek Wines are all Certified Vegan by the Vegan Society of the UK.
Bodegas Iranzo – Spartico and Tarantas Wines are certified Vegan by European Vegetarian Union.
Maison Raymond – French Organic Wines are Certified Vegan with Eve Vegan.
You can find our wines and others listed as vegan in the popular vegan alcohol search engine Barnivore.com and retailers are increasingly marking wines on shelf as vegan or vegan friendly. Business Insider’s article Vegans can’t actually drink all wines – here’s why, says: “Supermarkets are trying to keep up by labeling vegan-friendly wines so that they are easy to spot. Vegans can also consult websites like Barnivore.com where they can search for their favorite wine and check if it is safe to drink or not.
Vegan Diet Increases in Popularity
- 5% of the United States population is vegetarian and half of those people are vegan.
- Women make up 79% percent of the vegan group
- That means 16 million people in US eat absolutely no animal product
- Vegan wine has become a very popular search term on Google, surpassing search terms “organic wine” and “sulfites in wine” in popularity.
Vegan Wine Pairing Ideas
Vegan wines can of course be paired with a variety of vegan dishes, but here are a few ideas for some of most interesting pairings!
Biokult Gruner Veltliner
Asparagus, is notoriously hard to pair because of its bitter nature, but does well with the vibrant white Biokult Gruner Veltliner. The wine delightfully juicy with a wonderful hint of white pepper on the finish. This wine also holds up well with spicy Asian and Indian dishes.
Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux Blanc
Salads of all types go well with a full-bodied white such as Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux Blanc, a wonderful blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The wine is tangy with apricot, pear and apple, with a fresh and bright palate.
Koyle Gran Reserva Carmenere
Roasted root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots will go well with a bold red such as Koyle Gran Reserva Carmenere. The wine’s body and unique berry and herb characteristics will hold up to the bold roasted vegetable flavors.
The classic pairing with pasta dishes with red sauce would be Pizzolato Chianti. This delightful organic version of the classic wine features delicious mixed berries on the nose, with a well balanced body and long finish.
Whatever your favorite vegan meal, one of our many Vegan wines is sure to please!
Video - What is Vegan Wine
“Learn more about our Commitment to 100% Vegan Friendly Wine.