As a vegan, choosing a strict lifestyle means making alternative decisions and being conscious of everything you put into your body. Simple things that vegetarians still commonly eat such as honey, or milk-based products are condemned and replaced with soy or nut-based products. When it comes to wine, however, many vegans feel they’re safe, seeing as wine is made out of grapes. But, it’s the refining process that is in question, and should be considered when leading strict lifestyle.
Most wines are clarified during winemaking ; this process is called fining. Most often this process is also employed with the use of animal-based products such as casein or egg whites. Wins must be fined for that clear, crisp appearance; otherwise, it would be hazy and unappetizing. Casein and egg-whites dissolve the proteins in wine that give them the hazy appearance and allow them to collect at the bottom of the barrel.
Casein and egg whites also remove the bitter-tasting phenolics. Even though the fining agents are removed before the wine is bottled, it is still important to know that they have been used in the process. It’s also common for quality white, rose, and sparkling wines to use a fish byproduct, isinglass for fining.
Vegan wines are uncommon, but they are available in some markets. If you are a strict vegan or there is a member of your party to whom the process of fining is important, please let us know before the wine tour. We will research the wineries on your tour if we are uncertain of the availability of vegan wine, or notify you if there are no options to allow your vegan guest or yourself to bring a bottle of vegan wine to enjoy along with the group.
How do you know if a wine is vegan? First off, looking for an organic wine won’t guarantee a vegan wine. There are cage-free eggs that may be used in the fining process, along with organic casein. Wines that are un-fined or unfiltered will ultimately be vegan. Wines filtered only with sterile filters are also vegan (this includes cross-flow filters as well). Be aware however that unfiltered wine will taste quite different than wine that has been fined. Ask us for more information on the differences between vegan and mainstream wine to learn more about how you can make more conscious decisions that align with your lifestyle.