Wine is essentially grape juice, right? It is made from crushed grapes, that grow from vines and not they are not modified to grow on badgers. So how on earth can wine not be suitable for people who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle?
Read our Store Manager's post on vegan wine.
Sometimes in life I can be completely oblivious to pretty much everything. I am probably one of those people you look at in the street and think how does he get out of bed in the morning without being run over by a bus! I also know that I have wandered around in the wine aisle of a supermarket, picked up bottles and seen the vegan logo and just basically ignored it. So with my job now, as great as it is sometimes, I need to pay attention to the labels. But after discovering that wine is not always suitable for a vegan diet I started to look further.
I have to say that sometimes I am very interested in trying to better myself. An easy way to do this, in my head any way, is by reading. The Oxford Companion to Wine, whatever edition you read, will definitely keep you awake for a few hours a night. It was insightful.
Wine is not always just fermented grape juice! Hard to believe or even worth thinking about, but it is not. The main reason for this is because 3 of the 4 main agents used in the fining and stabilising processes. This is done for a number or reasons, mainly however to ensure that the wine does not end up hazy or cloudy and to stop it from ageing prematurely in the bottle after its been sealed.
I will not upset you with mentioning any of the very old fashioned methods for this as it almost put me off my glass of Bobal! But in this modern age, there is 5 main agents used which are egg whites, milk, fish bladders and American Bentonite clay deposits. I had no idea either! So FYI, the bentonite clay is the only agent which is not an animal derivative. It is a natural clay which is found in Wyoming, just a random pub quiz fact there, and is made of natural elements and can absorb the nasty bits that make our wine cloudy!
One of the reasons for the rise in the vegan friendly stamps on the bottles is the changing legislation across the world in relation to labelling. Due to the, although minute, levels of animal derivatives in the wines it is required to be on label, to inform us lovely shiny wine lovers of what’s inside. Not that I want to think about fish bladders being in my wine! May winemakers in these countries and many others that are not forced to do so by legislation are now choosing this natural bentonite clay deposits as a safer and vegan friendly way to help produce their amazing wines. Yet there is another problem with it - it is vegan friendly but it is also removing some flavour from wines. Damn!
I could bore you with how they use milk and egg whites to do this, but its seems a bit yuck. After all we are not going to start adding wine to our cornflakes!
The best vegan wine in my humble opinion is therefore any organic wines that has not been filtered or clarified at all - all the flavours are there and it is all lovely and vegan friendly. Make a note of that and next time you see an unfiltered organic wine, try one for yourself. My favourite four unfiltered red and white wines suitable for vegans and vegetarians are: