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!