Earlier this year we wrote a piece on organic and vegan wine. However, we are now happy to highlight Etica Fair Trade! This is a small and new company that imports Fair Trade wines. We write this with great excitement, as an official fair trade certification for wines has been lacking! Most of their wine comes from Fair Trade wineries in Chile and South Africa. This week Co-op America has featured the owner and founder of Etica as one of their Faces of Green Pages. The company is a Co-op America Green business and is part of the Fair Trade Federation.

The wine was originally only distributed to restaurants and stores in Minnesota, but have now branched out to several states. Of course all their wine is available for sale on the website! We have yet to try the wine ourselves, as it is not yet distributed to Massachusetts and shipping wine is illegal here. But as soon as it is available in local Boston stores, you bet we will run out and support this company!

As well as providing Fair Trade wine to the US, Etica also gives back to the communities they work with and offsets their importing impact! Tiffany, the owner and founder is dedicated to the Fair Trade cause and through her interview with Co-op America states that more should be done in the wine industry to protect wokers, even here in the US.

So if you are looking for a relaxing glass of wine or night on the town, check out Etica for their Fair Trade wines. One last thing, they also have a blog: Drink Like You Give A Damn where they discuss fair trade issues as well as politics and events. We can’t wait to get our hands on our first glass of fair trade wine!!! We suggest you get some too!

A smooth, flavorful glass of wine will calm even an over-stressed soul. But have you ever wondered what is actually in your wine? For those of us who choose not to consume animal products this a question that may come up often. For many vegans there are products that border on the line of being vegan, such as honey or silk. These products are not as veganistically simple to decide on as a steak, and wine is a classic example.

So you are thinking: What? Of course wine is vegan, its made out of crushed grapes, right? Although, grapes and other fruits may be the main ingredient, the fining process of wine is not always vegan. Depending on the winery, wines can be filtered through a number of ways. Some wineries use animal products such as gelatin (made from cow or pig bones) or casein (derived from milk) or even chitin (fish bladders). However, some wines are processed using vegan friendly and non animal bi-products such as plant derived casein and certain types of clays. If you’re curious about learning more about the vegan filtering process, we recommend that you check out Veggie Wines, a UK-based vegan information organization, or the May 2006 article on the topic by Vegetarians in Paradise.

So what about organic wines? Many of them boast a non filtered or organic natural fining process, but are they necessarily vegan? Since organic wine requires the product to be produced with organically grown grapes and must not contain sulfites (usually added as a preservative and is what causes that pesky morning-after headache), it would seem that organic wine would also refrain from fining with animal products. This however, is not always the case, so make sure you read the fine print.

Organic wines that are completely unfiltered are usually vegan and will most likely state this right on the label. We recommend the oldest organic vineyard in the country and multiple award-winner Frey Wines (which was also very popular at our World Fair Trade Day organic wine tasting earlier this month!). Or you can check out the vegan sampler from The Organic Wine Company which is a great value and a fun way to taste test vegan organic wines!

The best way to know if an organic (or non organic) wine is completely vegan, is to contact the manufacturer. Luckily, as most vegan products go, someone has already done this work for you! Check out the comprehensive vegan wine guides by Vegan Connection and the blog Taste Better.

So, when choosing your next bottle to share with friends and family, whether you or vegan or not, remember: organic wines are easier on the environment and, best of all, will not leave you with a throbbing wine-over the next day!

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