What is a vegan wine?

Jun 21, 2022Roisin Kirby
vegan wine - the Encosta vineyard in Portugal
There’s lots of confusion about what makes a wine vegan. After all – isn’t wine made from grapes? With the move towards vegan and vegetarian lifestyles becoming more common, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on what makes a vegan wine.

Isn't wine made from grapes?

Yes – of course it is – but what you may not know, is that some wineries use animal products in its production. Largely this is down to historical factors as winemaking is an ancient craft and back in the day, they used what was available naturally. Some of these products continue to be more sustainable than cheaper modern alternatives so the picture is not black and white.

What animal products are used in the production of wine?

To ensure that the wine in your glass is clear and clean, fining agents are used to remove proteins, dead yeast and any other organic particles that cause cloudiness.

Traditionally these would be made from animal-derived products such as casein (milk protein), chitin (fibre from shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), gelatine, blood and bone marrow or isinglass (gelatine from fish bladders.)

Beeswax is occasionally used to seal the bottle and certain types of milk-based glues might be used in the cork or to adhere the label.

While some of these things sound pretty unpleasant – they serve an important purpose – and none remain in the wine. Different vineyards might choose different fining agents according to their own preference and historical practice.

What makes a wine Vegan?

We have many wines on our list that use alternatives to animal-based products in the fining process.

One of the most popular is made from a type of clay and is called Bentonite. There are others made from synthetic products such as PVPP, however these are not a great solution for the environment or for our growers who work sustainably and organically.

Some growers find ways to avoid fining, by letting the particles settle before filtering off the grape juice – but the result is usually a wine with a little cloudiness and is potentially less stable than a wine that has been fined.

How can I tell if my wine is Vegan?

There are various bodies promoting Vegan labelling, which vary from country to country, but there is no requirement for certification – which can be costly – so many growers do not apply, even if no animal products are used in their winery.

Your best bet is to check with your wine supplier who should have detailed technical information on every wine, whether or not it appears on the label. Having a vegan stamp on a label is not an indication of quality so it really does come down to trusting your supplier or wine merchant.

Are Vegan wines organic?

The answer to this is not necessarily. If a wine is labelled as vegan, it does not mean there is any requirement for the vineyard to use organic farming practices.

Are wines with Vegan certification better than organic wines?

No. Vegan certification is no guarantee of quality. Some organic wines are also vegan, some are not.

Certification unfortunately means very little and tends to appear on the more mass produced, cheaper wines who may not use sustainable methods of farming.

Having said that, there are some really good wines that are vegan as no animal products are used, but they do not choose to advertise this on their label – mainly because of the costs involved in doing so.

How do I choose a Vegan wine?

The only real answer to this is to ask your wine supplier or merchant. Our website at Wine at Home has a filter for vegan wines, so if you check this box, you will see a range of wines.

We also only sell wines that we have sourced ourselves, so we have full technical information on every wine we import as well as years of trusted relationships with the growers.

Does Vegan wine taste different?

No. There is no way of discerning if a wine is vegan by tasting it. Even if animal derived products have been used in the production – none remains in the wine so there is no impact on the finished flavours.

Shop Vegan wines

Luckily we have a huge range of wines that we know to be not only vegan, but also made by winegrowers who respect and preserve their environment using organic farming methods to preserve the local biodiversity.

Bestselling Vegan Wines

Here is a selection of our best selling vegan wines:

Bestselling Vegan White Wines 

Sauvignon Blanc IGP Val de Loire L’explosif du Fresne 2018, Domaine du Fresne 

Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2020, Weingut Familie Rauen 

Albarino Silfide Val do Salnes DO Rias Baixas 2021 Tomada de Castro 

Bestselling Vegan Red Wines 

Talento Jumilla DOP 2020 Ego Bodegas 

Encosta do Vale Galego Colheita Tinto 2020, Adega M Cordeiro 

Bordeaux AOC 2018, Chateau la Croix du Grand Jard 

Bestselling Vegan Dessert Wine 

Muscat de Frontignan AOC, Chateau de Peyssonnie (Half Bottle) 

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