When considering wine one would think that all wines are vegan and vegetarian since they are produced from grapes. That is not always necessarily true and not always the easiest to find out. The winemaking process is what mostly defines whether wines are vegan or not vegan. In addition, it is also important to take a look at what types of fertilizers are used in vineyards as some may be animal based.
Some winemakers choose to let a wine take its natural slow process of self-clarifying by allowing the solids and sediments to sink to the bottom of the tanks. Other winemakers choose to add what are called “fining agents” to the process. There are animal derived products used as fining agents that include egg whites, gelatin, casein and isinglass. These agents when added bind to the molecules, such as proteins, tannins and phenolics. This makes them easier to be removed. These fining agents all play their own part in either brightening, clarifying the wines or removing “off” flavors.
There are vegan friendly agents that vegan wineries can also choose to use such as charcoal, silica and bentonite, which is clay based. Some of the aforementioned agents like gelatin are now also being produced from peas to become vegetarian. Plus, the cost of animal-derived fining agents is on the rise. It is possible more winemakers will move towards agents like bentonite.
So how does one determine whether a wine is vegan or not? There are some wine bottles that are labeled as “unfined” and “unfiltered”. Even natural or organic wines are the ones you’ll want to gravitate to. Since not all wines are clearly labeled as such it’s best to ask for recommendations. You can check with a knowledgeable wine shop or do some research online prior to a purchase. TuscanyWineClubTime is a respected directory online that will help guide you in the right direction.