Vegan wines this Veganuary

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Ever wanted to learn more about the process of making vegan wine? Take a read here from our Head of Wine to find out exactly how this is done and how to know if a wine is vegan.

The process

All wines start the same: crush some grapes, ferment the juice, hey presto! We have some wine. So far, no animal-related components in sight. This comes with the fining process.

‘What is that?’

All young wines are hazy (due to tiny particles such as proteins, tartrates and tannins) but as wine-consumers, we like our wines to be clear, bright and shiny.

Producers use a variety of aids called ‘fining agents’ to help the process along. Essentially, the fining agent acts like a magnet – attracting the particles around it, binding them into lumps big enough to easily filter out. This action of fining happens after the fermentation and before bottling the wine.

Traditionally, those fining agents were from animal-derived products, for example egg whites, casein (derived from milk), isinglass (fish bladders) and gelatin (made by boiling pig skin) – which are of course all completely removed before the wine is bottled.

However, because some animal-derived products were used during the production, the wine cannot be classed as vegan.

Today, to the great joy (and probably relief) of wine-loving vegans, many winemakers use clay-based fining agents such as bentonite, which are particularly efficient at fining out unwanted proteins. Activated charcoal is another vegan and vegetarian-friendly agent that is also used.

How do I know if my wine is vegan?

Winemakers can apply to receive an accredited certification which can be printed on their labels, ones to watch out for are here:

Author: Marjorie Legendre

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