A vegan lifestyle has become a lot easier with more accessible vegan options on the market. This makes it easier for consumers to know what is in their food since the packaging will list all the ingredients and tell the customer if any animal products are involved.
But when it comes to wine, this is not as easy. And unfortunately, not all wine is vegan. This may be a shock to many, especially since no wine label lists any animal products.
So why are not all wines vegan, and how would you know where to get vegan wines?
Why is Some Wine Not Vegan-Friendly?
While you might think that wines are simply fermented grape juice, so they must be vegan, you are sadly mistaken. During the winemaking process, winemakers have to make quite a few adjustments to the juice to turn it into what we know as wine.
One of the last steps in the winemaking process includes filtering and clarifying the wine. This is not a mandatory step, but most winemakers choose to “clean” their wines to make them more appealing to the customers. So other than removing the small pieces of skin and seed by filtering the wine, the wine also has to be cleared. This clearing process transforms the wine from a murky colour to a clear and bright one.
In the case of non-vegan wine, winemakers use a few different animal by-products to filter or clarify the wine. The filtering process is often done using crushed mussel shells, while they can use egg whites or fish bladder for the clarifying process. The protein in the egg and fish binds all the tiny pieces that make the wine murky, making it easier to filter out the wine.
And because of this, not all wine is classified as vegan.
Many winemakers have shifted to using alternatives like bentonite and activated charcoal, while other winemakers avoid filtering their wine and opt for a more natural style. So if you ever do get yourself a bottle of wine and notice pieces floating in the bottle, it is entirely natural. In fact, these wines tend to have a lot more flavor and last a lot longer. So don’t be afraid of natural, unfiltered, or vegan wine; embrace it.
How to tell if Your Wine is Vegan-Friendly?
Since there are 62 ingredients that winemakers can add to wine without having to disclose the ingredients, knowing which wines are vegan is not easy. Unless you specifically seek out vegan-friendly wineries and distributors, it is impossible to know which are vegan.
More winemakers who opt for natural or vegan-friendly wines will often add a vegan-friendly sticker to their label to help consumers. But for a one-stop-shop of vegan-friendly wines, it is best to find a reputable distributor who focuses on vegan wines.
Vegan Wine Recommendations
Viticolo specializes in natural, vegan, biodynamic, and organic wines from the best small producers in Italy. Our mission is to bring wine to everyone who appreciates natural organic wine and wishes to learn more about it. That being said, here are a few red and white vegan wines we recommend (and some vegan food pairing ideas).
Red Wine Recommendations
This red is may be youthful, but the tannins are well-integrated while delivering on a long finish. While red meat is often recommended with this wine, it is obviously not vegan-friendly. In this case, try the wine with a rich mushroom dish, like Risotto or burgers using vegan patties.
This unique wine is made using the unique Molinara grape, which delivers on intense aromas and flavors. This vegan red wine is light in color but big in personality, making it ideal for serving with bitter vegan chocolate.
This unique blend of Italian and international varieties makes for a great experience. Using Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, the wine works with any equally rich and complex dish. Creamy polentas are the ideal option or try it with homemade vegan white bean stew.
White and Rosé Wine Recommendations
This delicate white wine is the perfect summer wine with beautiful floral and herbal aromas. It is made from native grapes, like Albana and Trebbiano, which are excellent with most dishes. Since the wine is so light, try this vegan wine with vegan pasta or pizza.
Using a unique native grape, Fiano Minutolo, this white is exceptionally aromatic, making it another excellent food wine. Try this light white wine summer salads or beautifully grilled vegetables.
This beautifully made rosé is soft and fragrant with herbaceous and red fruit notes. Since the wine is slightly more intense than traditional white wine, it can pair with slightly richer food like a veggie pizza. It also works extremely well with vegan lasagna or pesto-based pasta.
Sparkling and Sweet Wine Recommendations
This unique take on sparkling wine is made using local apples. It can be enjoyed by itself as an aperitif and is great for anyone looking for something special. It can also be enjoyed alongside most salads.
This wine is slightly more traditional, using the Italian Glera grape to make this Prosecco. This wine is made with no intervention from the winemaker, allowing it to do its natural thing. Sparkling wine is great to serve with fatty food, so try any deep-friend vegan dishes alongside this beaut.
This is a sweet wine that is extremely hard to find in Italy. Made using Sangiovese, this sweet wine is a dessert on its own but works just as well with vegan pastries.
So if you’re looking to follow a vegan lifestyle, use Viticolo to source your vegan wines. We are dedicated to not only natural and vegan wine but also to helping small Italian wineries share their wines and get noticed.