While we always check the label of any edible product to discern whether or not it contains animal-based products, we feel clueless when it comes to wine. After all, no wine bottle has a red or green symbol on its label to guide us in the right direction. But even before we dwell into that argument, we need to understand, is wine vegetarian? Is there a way to know that?
After fermentation, the wine is kept in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks so that it can mature. Traditionally, wine gets its clarity naturally via the process of sedimentation while it is maturing. Whatever solid particles are present in the wine sink to the bottom of the barrel and can be easily separated. But the duration of maturation is smaller in wines that are meant to be consumed young (basically, what most of us drink on a regular basis). To substitute this natural clarification, winemakers add various substances to the wine in order to achieve faster clarification. This is the only step where animal products could be used in making wine.
Vegetarians and vegans often refrain from consuming wine because they feel it contains animal products or was made using them. But that’s not entirely true.
Is wine vegetarian?
The process to clarify wine is also known as “fining”. It removes any suspended particles like grape fragments, microbes, tartrate, excess protein etc., from the wine. During fining, some winemakers may use animal-derived products like egg whites, gelatine, isinglass (derived from fish) or casein, to make wine fault free, clear and bright. However, none of these ingredients remain in the wine when the process is completed as they get filtered out eventually.
So technically, the finished wine doesn’t contain any animal products, but they are used in the intermediary steps of winemaking. Now some people might be okay with that, but if you are a strict vegetarian or a vegan, you might not want to consume wine that has been produced using animal products.
Is there such a thing as vegetarian wine?
Vegans and vegetarians shouldn’t feel disheartened as not all wines are clarified using animal products. Here are two things to look for on the bottle’s label, if you want to purchase such a wine:
1) You can categorically look for the word vegetarian or vegan written on the label. This way you’ll be assured that clay-based products such as bentonite or polyvinylpyrrolidone were used to clarify your wine.
2) Secondly, you could also look for the word “unfined” on the label. Such wines forgo the process of clarification and what you’re getting is pure alcoholic grape juice. However, unfined wines will be hazy in appearance, but if you can overlook the presentation, you’ll enjoy your wine thoroughly.
So, grab your favorite glass of wine and follow me on Instagram for an entertaining and educational experience. Stay tuned for captivating content that will enhance your wine knowledge and make your wine-drinking experiences even more enjoyable.
Here’s a link to the video on “Is Wine Vegetarian?”